7 February 2013

Africa: Nigeria, Burkina Faso Face No Easy Can Final


Nelspruit — Five things we learned from day 19 at the Africa Cup of Nations.

That you don't need a flight of fancy to have predicted the winner between Mali and Nigeria. Mali's 'Eagles' were 3-0 down at half-time to Nigeria 's 'Super Eagles'. It ended 4-1.

Stephen Keshi has the chance to be a history man. Mahmoud El-Gohary was the top scorer for Egypt as they won the 1959 Africa Cup of Nations. He was in charge of the Egypt side when it beat South Africa to take the 1998 title. He's the only man to have won the title as a player and coach. Keshi, who was in the all-conquering Nigeria side of 1994, has a chance to emulate him. Fitting tribute to El-Gohard who died last September aged 74.

That consistency is a many-splendoured thing. Sidy Diallo, the president of the Ivorian football federation, says he is taking full responsibility for the failure of Côte d'Ivoire at yet another Cup of Nations.

He insists coach Sabri Lamouchi will be retained despite failing to emulate his predecessor François Zahoui who was dismissed after taking the 2012 crop to the final in Gabon. "Sacking a coach after every setback isn't a wise decision," says Diallo. The critics are out though. The newspaper Abidjan Sports wants Sidy and Sabri to do the decent thing.

Vincent Enyeama Official Watch day 19. Back on day 6 the Nigeria skipper Vincent Enyeama let rip about the officials following the 1-1 draw with Zambia. "It was the worst decision in the history of football," fumed the keeper after Grisha Ghead pointed to the spot following Eddy Onazi's manhandling of Emmanuel Mayuka six minutes from time.

A fortnight later ... Ghana 's John Boye uses two hands to push Jonathan Pitroipa off the ball in the Ghana penalty area after four minutes. Referee Jdidi Slim says no foul. Five minutes later Paul Koulibaly and Ghana 's Christian Atsu jump for a ball in the Burkina Faso box, Atsu tumbles on landing and Slim points to the spot.

Slim later denies Prejuce Nakoulma a legitimate looking goal in extra time. He then sends Jonathan Pitroipa off for his second bookable offence after the forward appeared to have been felled in the box. Burkina Faso coach Paul Put says the referee was the star player of the semi-final. Organisers? Sanctions please.

There are no easy games at this level. Burkina Faso came from a goal down to level against Ghana. Both sides could have won it in regulation and extra-time. Penalties decided it. That it went to the shoot-out underlines the much-cherished cliché.

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