I am a happy man at the moment, as I have just received my belated Three Kings Day gift of the return of my lady from a long vacation in France. Naturally she came home horribly sick, but hey, a sick lady is better than no lady at all, though I am now charged with cooking for two instead of just one, which I was struggling with as it was. But nevermind the pharmacy runs and the all-night cough fests, there’s news afoot and it must be covered.
Today’s update will deal entirely with the African Cup of Nations, where The Yaya and Keiteee, along with a few other people you may have heard of, are currently playing for ultimate continental glory. One cannot forget, of course, the horrible incident involving the Togolese national team, but the games are going on nonetheless and I feel duty-bound to cover them.
The tournament’s first match took play yesterday in Group A between host Angola and Mali and turned out to be a wild and crazy one. Angola went up 4-0 in the 74th minute (36′, 42′, 67′, 74′), but was promptly returned to earth by Mali, who tied the match in the 94th minute through Mustapha Yatabaré after our very own Seydou Keita scored in the 79th and 93rd minutes. Freddie Kanouté scored their third second goal in the 88th minute. Absurd, to say the least, but fulfillment of the old saying: “Don’t count your match winning goals before the final whistle.” Video of the goals can be seen here.
Today’s matches started with another Group A match between Malawi and World Cup team Algeria. I am not particularly well-versed in the various qualities of African national teams, but Malawi finished third in the final World Cup qualification campaign behind Cote d’Ivoire and Burkina Faso with 4 points from 6 matches. Algeria, on the other hand, qualified over African powerhouse Egypt, which is impressive. The final score of the match was 3-0 in favor of Malawi. How does that happen? This is how, apparently.
The other match for today was between Cote d’Ivoire and Burkina Faso in a rematch of their WCQ matches. Both of their matches ended in the Ivorians’ favor (2-3 away and 5-0 at home), but today’s match ended 0-0. The Yaya apparently took pity on the, um, Burkinese? Burkinos? Wikipedia will answer this! Burkinabé, apparently. Huh. Highlights and a Letizia Seychell link here.
And then, finally, the news that Togo has been officially expelled, in essence, from the Cup of Nations for failing to show for today’s match with Ghana. I realize that there is a schedule to maintain, but are you kidding me? The Togolese team returned to Togo, but then decided to play the tournament, but were too late to make their match against Ghana, so the tournament refused to allow them to return. The Guardian has good coverage of the situation. Expelled because they returned home for a few days after their team bus was attacked and members of their organization and team were killed? Really? There’s ridiculous and then there’s that.
More Barça news later.