Monday, January 23, 2006

African Cup of Nations

A prelude of sorts to this year's World Cup in Germany is playing out in Cairo, where the African Cup of Nations soccer tournament began on Friday. The tournament pits the continent's sixteen top teams against in each other in four groups of round-robin play.

Among the contenders are African World Cup participants Tunisia, which survived poor first-half play to defeat Zambia 4-1 in their opening match; civil-war wracked Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast); Togo, which is suffering from intra-team conflict; Ghana; and Angola. Other qualifying teams include host Egypt; former World Cup fan pleasers Nigeria and Cameroon, neither of whom qualified this go-round; South Africa; Guinea; Senegal; Morocco; Libya; and two countries better known for their ongoing internal sociopolitical crises, Zimbabwe and Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire).

Group D, comprising Senegal, Nigeria, Ghana, and Zimbabwe, is considered the toughest unit, and any of the first three teams could win the championship, though Senegal has fallen off since its 2004 World Cup success, Nigeria has been known to self-destruct despite having some of the most talented players in the world, and Ghana, a four-time winner of the Nations Cup, will have to outscore Senegal and Nigeria to advance, a tall order. None of the other three draws has as many contenders. Other potential winners include host country Egypt, which has also won 4 Nations Cups and had the most appearances over the tournament history, Tunisia, and Ivory Coast. Togo's coach, Nigerian native Stephen Keshi, and star player, Emmanuel Adebayor, are at loggerheads, and will have to make up if they're to advance out of their group, and down the road, to succeed in Germany. If you're really up on African soccer, you can predict the winners on the BBC's interactive site.

Some photos from before and during the tournament (the official site's photo section is awful):

Tunisia striker Chawki Ben Saada, center, vies with Ghana's Stephan Appiah, left, and Daniel Idouzai, right (AFP, Fethi Belaid)
Tunisia's Kaies Ghodhbane, left, takes the ball past Ghanaian defender Samuel Kuffuor in Tunis (AFP, Fethi Belaid)
The Ivory Coast team train at Cairo football stadium (AP, Ben Curtis)
Angola's Flavio celebrates goal against Cameroon during African Nations Cup match in Cairo (Reuters, Tara Todras-Whitehill)
Congo's Lomana Tresor Lua Lua, right, challenges for the ball with Togo's Emmanuel Matthias at the African Nations Cup soccer match between Togo and C (AP, Ben Curtis)
Arsenal defender Kolo Toure, right, and Arouna Kone of PSV Eindhoven, both playing for the Ivory Coast team, challenge for the ball during a training session (AP, Ben Curtis)

Morocco's Talal El Karkouri and Ivory Coast's Didier Drogba, right, fight for the ball during the African Nations Cup soccer match between Ivory Coast and Morocco (AP, Ben Curtis)
Ivory Coast's Didier Drogba celebrates his penalty goal during the African Nations Cup soccer match between Ivory Coast and Morocco (AP, Ben Curtis)
Tunisian Jaidi Radi waves to supporters as his team was qualified for this year's World Cup finals in Germany after a qualifying match against Morocco (AP Photo/Jalil Bounhar)
Egypt in red, vs. Libya in Green (©Mena, Cup of Nations site)
Nigeria's Jay-Jay Okocha, past international sensation, now on the verge of retirement from international play (BBC)

Guinea's Ousmane Bangoura, center, celebrates his goal with teammates Pablo Thiam, left, and Kanfory Sylla, right, during the African Nations Cup soccer match between South Africa and Guinea (AP, Ben Curtis)


  1. Thanks for the head's up on the BBC and the photos. I am going to have to figure out how to get to Germany for world cup.

    Right now, I am sure I will be there for carnival, but World Cup would be great. Just to watch it on television in Germany and then walk out and see people driving around in their cars with their country's flag out of the window and honking for their so uncertain victory against England.

    But I am not too happy about soccer violence. That unnerves me sometimes. Crowds can change so quickly.

  2. I'd wanted to go to the World Cup when it was in France, but that didn't happen. It's an ongoing dream, but I'll pass on Deutschland this go round. I hope it's in Brazil one of these days soon. BTw, I think the Brazilians are going to win it again this year.

    I hear you about the soccer violence. I hope they have it under control in Germany.

  3. Yeah, the violence is hot. People thought that I was Brazilian when I was walking home from the 2002 coverage and it got scary in a couple of patches. The riot police were out in full gear, but I missed it. I was looking for an apartment a couple of blocks away from the square. A German friend of mine got arrested but he was at another place (in the middle of the madness to be more precise).

    Afterwards, I went to a dinner party where there was this gay, German, nationalistic, objectifing, and culturally essentialist registered nurse from East Germany in attendence. He had a boyfriend from Thailand. He was drunk as hell, and I was not in the mood for his funk. But he was blond, cute, nice butt, etc ..., but there was something not right about what was coming out of his mouth. It was antiquated. 19th century perspectives concerning German glory. Blah, blah, blah ... a nice booty and big smile can only mask so much ... you know.

    Can we say MESS!

    You been to Brazil?
    Brazil might win, but I am hoping that a third world country takes it... who the hell ever! An African team would be great. And I like Portugal. I am in love with Luis Figo . . . I got several pictures of him as my screensaver. But he is retiring or has retired, I have to check the line up.


  4. I have been to Brazil, two times. I loved it. I think Germany has a good chance this time, since they're playing on their home territory, but their play has often been too stiff. France won two Cups ago but didn't have it last time. There's always Argentina, England, the Czech Republic, and unexpected teams like Tunisia.

    Still, I think Brazil has the best chance give its path to the finals. I love watching them display their jogo bonito. The US...well, if they win 1-2 games, it'll be a miracle. I'm dying to know if Freddy Adu makes it onto the team. If so, and if he stays uninjured, he could possibly play for 5-6 Cup teams down the road. I don't think he's anywhere near his best yet.

  5. Brazil -- good shot to finals. That simple. It will be their 6th. I just don't think I could stand my Brazilian friends if they win again. It will be a great party, but they will have their noses in the air.

    Germany -- style of play is really nose to the grind stone, little ants moving as fast as they can. Oliver Kahn (Ollie) the goalie is one of the best in the world. He looks like a lion.

    Portugal -- The ones I would like to see do it. I don't like England's team, and when they beat them in the semi-finals of the last European Champions League, I have got to say it was like a church service, though it was marked by a controversial call. I cried when they lost to Greece in the finals. Depressed for days.

    Argentina -- Them bitches were crying for days when they got kicked out in 2002.

    France -- Them bitches were in shock in 2002, then they lost the 2012 Olympics to London. I feel sorry for them.

    Czech -- have not kept up, but I do believe they did OK in the European Champions league last time.

    US -- They made it to the quarter finals if I am not mistaken last time. It was a great, as an American I am used to picking other guys to cheer for during soccer matches. It was a great showing. I was happy. Gotta read up on this Freddy Adu. He must be a baby.

    Turkey -- They made it to semi-finals last time I believe. Great turn out. Maybe they will shock us this time. There will be riots for sure in Germany if they get to the finals. We were all praying that it would not be a Turkey v. Germany match in 2002.

    OK. I will stop there. I am rusty on my stats. Let's keep each other informed.