21 January 2013

Africa: Seydou Keita - a Malian National Treasure, Claude Leroy - a Record-Breaker


Johannesburg — Five things we learned on day two of the Africa Cup of Nations

We'll have to wait for day three for one team to wallop another. With Ghana squandering a two goal lead against Democratic Republic of Congo and Mali edging past Niger 1-0 in Group B, to add to Group A's two goalless draws on the opening day on Saturday, no one's been trounced yet.

Seydou Keita is a national treasure. Well, actually on the back of his contract with the Chinese Super League club Dalian Aerbin, he could probably buy most of his country's national treasures. The 33-year-old midfielder scored the only goal as Mali beat Niger to take control of Group B. Just for the record Keita won 14 trophies including three La Liga titles and two Uefa Champions league crowns with Barcelona before heading for the Dalian dollars.

Claude LeRoy is a record-breaker. The coach of the Democratic Republic of Congo is into his seventh Africa Cup of Nations as a boss. Back in 1998 he led Cameroon to the Cup of Nations title and was in charge of DRC when they reached the last eight in 2006. The 64-year-old Frenchman was also head man of Ghana when they got to the semis in 2008.

That my ability to weave together a coherent internal narrative into the day's review has probably hit its peak. On the subject of treasure and Cameroon, LeRoy tipped DRC skipper Trésor Mputu as the next Samuel Eto. Presumably LeRoy is referring to Mputu's goalscoring talents rather than the Etoesque capacity to create a rumpus. Though Mputu does have previous on this account. In August 2010 he was banned for a year for going all mediaeval on a referee. But back in the fold, he scored his side's first goal during their comeback from 2-0 down against Ghana.

Ghana striker Asamoah Gyan's decision to leave English Premier League side Sunderland to seek the petrodollars of Al Ain could backfire. The front man had a chance at the death to win it for his country but his header was right at the keeper. A case of lost sharpness?

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