It might just be me, but I never know what’s going to happen in any match involving an African team. Is that racist? Maybe. But I really can’t figure them out. And this year’s edition of the continental bi-annual tournament should be no different. Seveal big names are missing, as Egypt (the three-time defending champs!), Cameroon, Nigeria, and South Africa all failed to qualify, proving how unpredictable the ACN can be.
So why would you watch? Well, you probably won’t, since the only way to see the games in the good old U-S-of-A is to find an online stream somewhere (insert topical SOPA joke here). And that’s why we’re here, to keep you updated.
So were there any surprises in the first round of group games? Let’s find out…
Equatorial Guinea 1:0 Libya
The tournament got off to a rocking start, as co-host Equatorial Guinea, arguably one of the two worst teams in the entire tournament, pulled off a stunning 1-0 win over the Fighting Gadaffis. It appears the home side was properly motivated by their president’s son’s promise of $1 million in team bonus money for an opening day victory, as well as $20,000 for each goal scored in the tournament. This group, which seemed to be a two-horse race, is now officially wide open thanks to…
Senegal 1:2 Zambia
Another shocker! Senegal are probably third favorites in the tournament (behin Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire), with an attack that boasts Newcastle strikers Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse, Lille’s Moussa Sow, Mamadou Diang, and FC Copenhagen’s Dame N’Doye, who was just named player of the year after scoing 25 goals in 31 matches. N’Doye was the only one on target in this match, and the Lions now face an uphill battle to the quarterfinals.
Cote d’Ivoire 1:0 Sudan
Phew, a temporary return to normalcy. A 39th-minute Drogba strike was enough for the Elephants, who have the deepest team in the tournament. Sudanese coach Mohamed “Mazda” Abdallah named an entirely domestic-based squad, and are the only team without even one single player that I am familiar with. Zoom zoom.
Burkina Faso 1:2 Angola
With this win, the Angolans can qualify for the quarterfinals by beating Sudan on Thursday. Burkina Faso are in trouble, as they face a must-win against Cote d”ivoire.
Gabon 2:0 Niger
The other co-hosts also registered a big opening day victory, albeit against lowly Niger. Gabon are the youngest team in the tournament, and will need the home crowd’s support against Tunisia and Morocco.
Morocco 1:2 Tunisia
This was a huge win for Tunisia, who face Niger on Friday and can feel good about their chances to advance. My twitter timeline seemed to take great pleasure in the ineffectiveness of Arsenal’s out-of-form striker, in-form hair gel connoisseur, Marouane Chamakh.
Ghana 1:0 Botswana
It was an eventful afternoon for captian John Mensah, who scored the 25th minute winner with his knee. The Lyon defender then saw a straight red card for a breakway-thwarting professional foul on the edge of the area. Tournament debutants Botswana were impressive defensively, but will need to create more chances if they hope to advance.
Mali 1:0 Guinea (non-Equatorial version)
Solid start for the Malians and captain Seydou Keita, who took a boot to the shoulder in the early going. Guinea hit the bar in injury time, but were unable to find an equalizer.
So after one round of matches, only Group A has provided the chaos we had hoped. A few things to look forward to:
- There was an average of 2.52 goals in each of the 130 qualifying games, so let’s hope teams open things up as they try to lock downplaces in the quarterfinals.
- Everyone’s favorite Malian-born, Slovenian-raised referee will be making an appearance at some point. I have yet to find out which game(s) he will be a part of, but I will keep every posted.
We’ll be back Saturday with Matchday Two results.