Algeria Battles From Behind To Down South Africa; Senegal Beats Ghana

Posted January 19th, 2015 at 9:20 pm (UTC-4)
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Algeria pulled off a scrappy win-from-behind Monday, recovering from one goal down to beat Group C rival South Africa 3-1 in the Africa Cup of Nations tournament.

South Africa's Tokelo Rantie challenges Algeria's goalkeeper Rais Mbolhi during their Group C soccer match of the 2015 African Cup of Nations in Mongomo

South Africa’s Tokelo Rantie challenges Algeria’s goalkeeper Rais Mbolhi during their Group C soccer match of the 2015 African Cup of Nations. (REUTERS)

The Desert Foxes were stunned initially, in the 51st minute when Thuso Phala netted home a goal. But an own goal from Thulani Hlatshwayo tied the game in the 67th minute then started to shift the momentum toward Algeria.

Two more goals by Faouzi Ghoulam and Islam Slimani then wrapped up the win, putting Algeria atop Group C with 3 points.

In other group action, Senegal upset favorites Ghana 2-1, behind an added time goal from Moussa Sow. The match was tied at 1 up until the stoppage time, with Ghana’s André Ayew scoring first on a penalty in the 14th minute and Senegal’s Mame Biram Diouf heading home a close goal in the 58th minute.

The game appeared headed for yet another draw for the 2015 tournament, until Sow hit the left-side of the netting from the middle of the box at the 93rd minute.

 

 

Mike Eckel
Mike Eckel's dreams of being drafted by Man United or FC Barcelona peaked when he was captain of his high school football team, but ended during his short-lived college career. He continues to be an avid player (midfield) however and holds out hope that Jozy Altidore will get his act together for 2018. When not running VOA's football blogs, he writes about Russia, international war crimes, Central Asia corruption and oversees VOA's multimedia collaboration efforts.

Who Are The Players to Watch?

Posted January 19th, 2015 at 4:37 pm (UTC-4)
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That African teams are a consistent source for some of the football world’s best talent is no surprise to anyone who’s paying attention. Think Didier Drogba, George Weah and Samuel Eto’o.

Unfortunately for fans of African football, neither Drogba nor Eto’o will be appearing in this year’s Africa Cup of Nations for their respective sides, Cote D’Ivoire and Cameroon.

Still there will be plenty of shimmering skill and speed to watch in the continent’s premier football competition.

Here’s an unscientific listing of some of the best players taking to the pitches in Equatorial Guinea. It is by no means comprehensive so if you think we’ve missed someone, let us know!

 

Gabon’s Aubameyang celebrates after scoring against Burkina Faso during their soccer match at the African Cup of Nations on Jan. 17, 2015. (REUTERS)

Player: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Country: Gabon

Club: Borussia Dortmund

Position: Forward

Aubameyang has already started out the tournamentstrong, scoring once to help lead Gabon to a 2-0 victory over Burkina Faso.  His professional career includes stints with A.C. Milan, St.-Etienne and some smaller clubs, before ending up in the Bundesliga with Borussia Dortmund in 2013, where he scored 13 goals in his first season. This season, he’s netted five so far for the German side, and another six in German Cup and Champions League action.

 

Yaya Toure, of Manchester City, fights for the ball with Sheffield Liam Palmer during their FA Cup third round soccer match at the Etihad stadium in Manchester Jan. 4, 2015. (REUTERS)

Player: Yaya Toure

Country: Cote D’Ivoire

ClubManchester City

Position: Midfielder

Toure has long attracted plaudits for his play, and he’s been voted CAF’s Africa Player of the Year for four years straight. With Manchester City, he helped the English club to bring home the Premier League title last summer, and he scored 11 goals and had eight assists in the second half of the season. At last year’s World Cup, however, his performance, and that of his entire team, was widely considered underwhelming, where Les Elephants failed to advance beyond the group stage for the third time in as many World Cup appearances.

 

AC Milan’s Zapata tackles AS Roma’s Gervinho during their Italian Serie A soccer match in Rome. (REUTERS)

Player: Gervinho

Country: Cote D’Ivoire

Club: A.S. Roma

Position: Forward

Formally known as Gervais Yao Kouassi, Gervinho played well at Arsenal, and Lille before that, but then suffered a slowdown in the 2012-2013, and was transferred to Roma in Serie A, where he scored 12 goals, including  nine league goals. This year, he’s already netted five for Roma. He also put in a strong performance during the World Cup, where he scored twice, including a widely praised effort against Colombia.

 

Wilfried Bony, of Swansea City, celebrates scoring a goal, that was later disallowed, during a recent English Premier League soccer match at the Liberty Stadium in Swansea. (REUTERS)

Player: Wilfried Bony

Country: Cote D’ Ivoire

Club: Manchester City

Position: Striker

After five seasons with smaller European clubs, Bony ended up in the Premier League in 2013, with Swansea City, where he netted FA Cup goals over Manchester United and Birmingham City and then a strong five goals in his last four league matches of the season.  On Jan. 14, just days before the 2015 Africa Cup tournament kicked off, Manchester City announced Bony would be joining his countryman Toure on the team, for an eye-popping $51 million. Bony also netted two goals in the World Cup – one against Japan, the other against Greece.

 

Porto’s Brahimi fights for the ball with Benfica’s Pereira during a recent Portuguese Premier League soccer match at Dragao stadium in Porto. (REUTERS)

Player: Yacine Nasr Eddine Brahimi

Country: Algeria

Club: FC Porto

Position: Midfielder

Last year, Brahimi joined FC Porto, in  Portugal’s Primeira Liga, after several years of middling performance with Granada CF in La Liga. With Porto, Brahimi scored six goals in 15 appearances and netted a hat trick in the club’s first Champions League group match. A goal and assist in the Nov. 5 match-up against Atletico helped lead Porto to the knockout round for the Champions League. He also netted a beautiful goal for Algeria against South Korea in last summer World Cup group stage. BBC readers last year voted  Brahimi as the African Footballer of the Year for 2014.

 

Ghana's Gyan heads to score against Portugal during their 2014 World Cup Group G soccer match at the Brasilia national stadium in Brasilia

Ghana’s Gyan heads to score against Portugal during their 2014 World Cup Group G soccer match at the Brasilia national stadiu. (REUTERS)

Player: Asamoah Gyan

Country: Ghana

Club: Al Ain of the UAE Pro-League

Position: Striker

Gyan’s move from the Premier League’s Sunderland in 2011 to the United Arab Emirates raised eyebrows but his two World Cup goals last year against Portugal and Germany garnered plaudits, and made him the Africa’s all-time leading scorer at the World Cup. Gyan’s superlative performance however, was eclipsed by Ghana’s poor record, where the Black Stars failed to exit the group stage. He was the top scorer in the Asian Champions League last year, with 44 goals in 40 games. Gyan has already made headlines in Equatorial Guinea for contracting malaria on the eve of the tournament.

 

Mike Eckel
Mike Eckel's dreams of being drafted by Man United or FC Barcelona peaked when he was captain of his high school football team, but ended during his short-lived college career. He continues to be an avid player (midfield) however and holds out hope that Jozy Altidore will get his act together for 2018. When not running VOA's football blogs, he writes about Russia, international war crimes, Central Asia corruption and oversees VOA's multimedia collaboration efforts.

Group B Sees Draws For Cape Verde, Tunisia, Zambia and DR Congo

Posted January 18th, 2015 at 9:57 pm (UTC-4)
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91C134E0-1214-4EE5-BF7A-0FC8D5CF8002_cx0_cy31_cw0_mw1024_s_n_r1A Congolese supporter grimaces before his side’s matchup against Zambia, Sunday, Jan. 18, 2015 in Ebebiyin, Equatorial Guinea (AP) 

 

Africa Cup of Nations Group B rivals Tunisia and Cape Verde battled to a 1-1 draw Sunday as Heldon netted a penalty late in the 2nd half.

At the 70th minute, Mohamed Ali Moncer netted home a strong right-footed shot giving the Tunisian side optimism they would come out on top. But Heldon, who plays for Sporting Lisbon, led the charge to bring Cape Verde from behind with his penalty goal in the 77th minute.

In the other Group B matchup on Day Two of Africa’s premier football tournament, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo drew at 1 each.

Zambia’s Given Singuluma scored quickly against the DR Congo, just 1 minute into the match. But Yannick Bolasie tied the game in the 66th minute with a powerful shot from inside the box.

With  Equatorial Guinea stepping in just nine weeks ago and agreeing to host the event, there’s been concern about how well organized the games will be.

The Zambia-Congo DR match saw some confusion, according to media reports, as thousands of people were either prevented from entering the stadium in the remote town of Ebebeyin, or were forced to be screened by Ebola.

Morocco had been scheduled to host the 2015 tournament, but was stripped of that right after the kingdom, fearing the spread of Ebola, had asked for a delay of several months.

 

 

Mike Eckel
Mike Eckel's dreams of being drafted by Man United or FC Barcelona peaked when he was captain of his high school football team, but ended during his short-lived college career. He continues to be an avid player (midfield) however and holds out hope that Jozy Altidore will get his act together for 2018. When not running VOA's football blogs, he writes about Russia, international war crimes, Central Asia corruption and oversees VOA's multimedia collaboration efforts.

Mascots of Years Past- Take Two

Posted January 18th, 2015 at 10:01 am (UTC-4)
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Any idea what the mascot of the 1992 Africa Cup hosted by Senegal was?

VOA’s Teffera Teffera knows!

Check it out:

 

Teff Teff
Raised in Ethiopia, Teff Teff has played the game for as long as he remembers. He is a huge Manchester United supporter who tries to emulate his heroes the best way he can, on FIFA or at the local park. He is a multimedia producer for the Africa Division at VOA, where he spreads the football gospel to anyone who listens.

Gabon Tops Burkina Faso, Equatorial Guinea and Congo Draw

Posted January 17th, 2015 at 10:23 pm (UTC-4)
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Gabon’s Kabore challenges Burkina Faso’s Kone during their opening group-stage match at the African Cup of Nations. (REUTERS)

Gabon overpowered Burkina Faso 2-0 to jump to the top of Group A standings, as the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations tournament got underway on Saturday.

Host Equatorial Guinea and Congo battled to a 1-1 draw, meanwhile, in the other opening match of the tournament.

Led by goals from Pierre Emerick Aubameyang, a striker for Germany’s Borussia Dortmund,  and a header from 72nd minute Malick Evouna, Gabon claimed bragging rights, at least for the moment, as the leader of Group A, and the tournament. Burkina Faso had come into the match with high expectations with a run into the finals in 2013 before defeat by Nigeria.

Nigeria, much to many observers’ surprise, didn’t even qualify for this year’s tournament.

Congo disappointed a home turf crowd, when Thievy Bifouma netted a  late goal to tie Equatorial Guinea. Emilio Nsue Lopez scored early, in the 16th minute, to the delight of the host nations.

 

 

Mike Eckel
Mike Eckel's dreams of being drafted by Man United or FC Barcelona peaked when he was captain of his high school football team, but ended during his short-lived college career. He continues to be an avid player (midfield) however and holds out hope that Jozy Altidore will get his act together for 2018. When not running VOA's football blogs, he writes about Russia, international war crimes, Central Asia corruption and oversees VOA's multimedia collaboration efforts.

The Sonny Side of AFCON

Posted January 17th, 2015 at 10:24 am (UTC-4)
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VOA’s Sonny Young previews the tournament, which kicks off today with matches between host Equatorial Guinea and Congo and Burkina Faso v. Gabon:

Mike Eckel
Mike Eckel's dreams of being drafted by Man United or FC Barcelona peaked when he was captain of his high school football team, but ended during his short-lived college career. He continues to be an avid player (midfield) however and holds out hope that Jozy Altidore will get his act together for 2018. When not running VOA's football blogs, he writes about Russia, international war crimes, Central Asia corruption and oversees VOA's multimedia collaboration efforts.

Beware of the Chuku Chuku!

Posted January 17th, 2015 at 8:44 am (UTC-4)
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A worker walks in front of "Chuku Chuku", the official mascot of the African Nations Cup at the Estadio de Bata, in BataAn Equatorial Guinea fan cheers before the start of their African Nations Cup soccer match again Zambia in MalaboEquatorial Guinea Soccer African Cup

Mike Eckel
Mike Eckel's dreams of being drafted by Man United or FC Barcelona peaked when he was captain of his high school football team, but ended during his short-lived college career. He continues to be an avid player (midfield) however and holds out hope that Jozy Altidore will get his act together for 2018. When not running VOA's football blogs, he writes about Russia, international war crimes, Central Asia corruption and oversees VOA's multimedia collaboration efforts.

Lions and Tigers and Hippos…. Oh My!

Posted January 16th, 2015 at 9:43 pm (UTC-4)
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From hippos and eagles, to lions and antelopes, the African Cup of Nations (or AFCON as it is known) has seen some colorful mascots over the years.

VOA’s Teffera Teffera searched through the jungle that is the internet to find some of these wild mascots, and was not disappointed.

Check them out in part 1 of VOA’s “Mascots of the Past”!

Teff Teff
Raised in Ethiopia, Teff Teff has played the game for as long as he remembers. He is a huge Manchester United supporter who tries to emulate his heroes the best way he can, on FIFA or at the local park. He is a multimedia producer for the Africa Division at VOA, where he spreads the football gospel to anyone who listens.

On Tournament’s Eve, A Lack of Hotel Rooms?

Posted January 16th, 2015 at 6:15 pm (UTC-4)
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The 16-country Africa Cup of Nations is small potatoes compared with the FIFA World Cup, or the Olympic Games. But it’s capital “H” Huge in Africa.

Morocco had been scheduled to host the 2015 tournament, but with rampant fears of Ebola, the kingdom ask to delay the event for a few months. That prompted the regional soccer governing body, the Confederation of African Football, to strip Morocco of its right to host in November. (And even barred it from even participating).

Enter Equatorial Guinea, a small, West African country that is home to lots of oil and a regime that is widely considered to be spectacularly corrupt and repressive, which was then chosen as the alternative host.

With just nine week to organize and an estimated $40 million price, putting on the tournament was never going to be easy. Organizers had to build a lot of the infrastructure from scratch: stadiums in the middle of jungles and forest; replace dirt roads with multi-lane highways and so on.

Hotels, it would seem, have been given short shrift.

So much so that Congo’s coach Claude Le Roy complained to the BBC this week that the hotel his team has been put up is, shall we say, lacking.

“There are not enough places for my staff and it’s even difficult to find rooms for the players,” Le Roy said.

“The electricity is terrible, everything is exposed. I wanted to wash my hands. There was no water.

“I don’t want a big five-star hotel. I just want something very clean.”

Stay tuned.

A man walks in front of the Estadio de Bata in Bata (Reuters)

A man walks in front of the Estadio de Bata in Bata (Reuters)

Mike Eckel
Mike Eckel's dreams of being drafted by Man United or FC Barcelona peaked when he was captain of his high school football team, but ended during his short-lived college career. He continues to be an avid player (midfield) however and holds out hope that Jozy Altidore will get his act together for 2018. When not running VOA's football blogs, he writes about Russia, international war crimes, Central Asia corruption and oversees VOA's multimedia collaboration efforts.

New Champion to be Crowned at Equatorial Guinea 2015

Posted January 7th, 2015 at 4:01 pm (UTC-4)
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Equatorial Guinea 2015Equatorial Guinea 2015 is shaping up as one of the most competitive Africa Cup of Nations football tournaments in recent years.

The 16-team tournament, which kicks off January 17th, features nine former champions, but not the reigning titleholder, Nigeria, which failed to qualify.

Longtime African football analyst David Legge, soccer writer for Agence France-Presse, says he counts seven teams that could possibly lift the trophy on February 8th in the seaport city of Bata.

They are, in alphabetical order, Algeria, Cameroon, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Senegal, South Africa and Tunisia.

Midfielder Sofiane Feghouli and the Desert Foxes of Algeria are bidding for their first Nations Cup title in 25 years. Photo: Reuters

Midfielder Sofiane Feghouli and the Desert Foxes of Algeria are bidding for their first Nations Cup title in 25 years. Photo: Reuters

The Desert Foxes of Algeria kicked sand in the faces of many World Cup experts by reaching the Round of 16 for the first time in the country’s history at last year’s football showpiece in Brazil.

However, the Algerians haven’t won the Nations Cup since 1990 when they hosted the African championship and captured their only crown.

Of the seven teams that Legge mentioned, Ghana and Cameroon have the proudest Nations Cup pedigrees. Each has won the Cup four times.

The Black Stars of Ghana, like the Desert Foxes, have gone through a long dry spell at the Nations Cup. Their last African title was in 1982.

Cameroon’s last championship was in 2002, when it beat Senegal, 3-2 on penalty kicks, in Mali. That was Senegal’s best ever Nations Cup showing.

French coach Claude Le Roy will be giving instructions to Congo-Brazzaville's players during the 2015 Nations Cup. Photo: AP

French coach Claude Le Roy will be giving instructions to Congo-Brazzaville’s players during the 2015 Nations Cup. Photo: AP

Legge’s dark horse picks for the 30th edition of African football’s premier event are Gabon, Cape Verde and Congo-Brazzaville, which plays Equatorial Guinea in the tournament’s opening match in Bata.

He says “the sly French fox” Claude Le Roy, the head coach of Congo-Brazzaville, makes the Congolese a threat to go far in Equatorial Guinea.

The 66-year-old Le Roy has had successful coaching stints in the past with Cameroon, Senegal, Ghana and the Democratic Republic of Congo, and in Legge’s words, “has a magical effect” on the teams he guides.

Equatorial Guinea, which co-hosted the 2012 Nations Cup with Gabon, has had only about nine weeks to get ready for staging the tournament at a cost estimated at $40 million.

Morocco, the original host, wanted the competition postponed because of Ebola fears and Equatorial Guinea stepped in as a last minute replacement.

Sonny Young
Since 1999, host Sonny Young has delighted listeners and viewers with a lively presentation that combines humor, props, sound effects and correspondent reports from Africa and all over the globe.

About

Sonny Side of Sports is an energetic and action-packed look at both world and African sports, broadcast on radio, TV and the Internet. Since the show’s creation in 1999, host Sonny Young has delighted listeners and viewers with a lively presentation that combines humor, props, sound effects and correspondent reports from Africa and all over the globe.

The Sonny Side of Sports is broadcast Monday through Friday at 1630 and 1830 UTC/GMT. And on Fridays at 1730 UTC/GMT, Sonny has an expanded 30-minute sports show.

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