22 January 2013

Africa: Goals, Gear and Going for It At the Africa Cup of Nations


Nelspruit — Five things we learned on day three of the Africa Cup of Nations

Zambia coach Hervé Renard has decided to perfect his much-vaunted (well in these columns anyway) Touchline Look. Le Touchline 2012 consisted of Hervé leaning against the post of the dugout in blue jeans and crisp white shirt with three buttons open. Le Look 2013 sees Hervé again reclining against the dugout post but this time with two buttons undone and les blue jeans have been replaced with black slims. Très stylish.

Footballing standards are a-changing. When I was a lad back in the summer of 1982, France were dissecting West Germany (yes it was that long ago) in the World Cup semi final. German goalkeeper Toni Schumacher charged out of his box and hurled himself into Patrick Battiston to stop the Frenchman getting to the ball. Schumacher stayed on the pitch and wasn't even booked while the Frenchman was stretchered off with a broken rib and also missing three teeth. Tasew Jemal is playing in different times. The Ethiopian goalie launched himself feet first at Lungu Chisamba as he tried to kick the ball. Chisamba was on the ground for a couple of minutes but eventually got up to carry on. Jemal, who injured himself in the assault, was given a straight red.

I'm easily impressed. Just after the whistle for half time. I was handed a piece of paper with SportVU's optical tracking statistics. It told me that Zambia's Isaac Chansa had covered 4.6 kilometres during the first 45 minutes. Lightweight. Ethiopia's Megersa Asrat strode 4.7 kilometres in the first half. There were also stats on top sprinters and top runners. Sadly no stats about stud penetration into human flesh.

I'm easily unimpressed. Ball possession, I was informed, was Zambia 55 per cent Ethiopia 46 per cent.

Goals really are scored with the last kick of the game. Alain Traoré got the strike for Burkina Faso against Nigeria. The Super Eagles barely had time to take the ball back to the centre circle.

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