Cote D’Ivoire Versus Ghana - The Dream Final…!
Posted: Jan 22, 2012
I am living in the future. It is already February 12, the day of the final match of AFCON 2012. I am one of 40,000 football-crazy spectators from all over the African continent waiting excitedly and patiently for the start of the end of the 31st edition of the African Cup of Nations. The final match is taking place at the magnificent, refurbished Stade de L’Amitie in Libreville, Gabon. The atmosphere is electric, tension is high, excitement is infectious and the arena is a Kaleidoscope of colours. For three weeks, January 21 to February 12, 4 cities in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon - Bata, Malabo, Libreville and Franceville - have been turned into theatres of football celebration by the usual travelling army of football fans from across the continent. Africa has again been treated to a feast of football pulsating with athleticism, undiluted skills, raw power and speed, attributes that define the true essence of African football. 14 national football teams have come, seen and have been conquered en route this final match, with only 2 still left on their feet waiting to draw the curtains on Africa’s greatest football showpiece.
I am still in the future. The championship has not disappointed pundits. The last two teams standing are the same teams that most football analysts, looking at the records and statistics, had predicted even before a ball was kicked, and in the absence of some of the more renowned African teams, would likely get to the finals. On the eve of the championship FIFA had released its global rankings and confirmed also that Cote D’Ivoire and Ghana are the top two teams in Africa. So, predictions have matched reality, and here I am living in the prospect of the dream final. Yes, to most people a final between Cote D’Ivoire and Ghana would be the dream final from amongst the nations that have qualified.
Its time to return to the reality of the present! The group matches start today.
Football is not mathematics. Results never always follow a set of rules, norms or logic. Thats why the game is ‘beautiful’. It is a leveller. It does not respect nationality, race, creed or colour. It is so unpredictable that one little awkward bounce of the ball during a 90 minutes game can turn a match around; one clumsy tackle can make the difference between winning and losing; one moment of magic by a player can become a moment of history, inscribed forever in the minds of millions of football followers for years after that moment. In short, there are too many factors that come into play that determine the outcome of a match, and distinguish the heroes from the villains, and the winners from the losers. So, even as the real battle starts today inside the main bowl of the Estado do Bata between co-hosts Equatorial Guinea and Libya expectations are riveted on who would survive the three weeks of gruelling matches and eventually be there in the final act of the final scene on February 12.
The road to the Cup - First Round
Last week I started a four part series on AFCON 2012 with some unfortunate goofs pointed out to me by vigilant readers. I did not list Sudan as part of the AFCON 2012 party. Algeria that I mentioned did not even qualify for the championship. Both errors were inexcusable mental slips for which I sincerely apologise. But then, mentioning them would not have made any difference to my assessment of the teams, particularly those that can win the championship. I failed to mention Nigeria’s conqueror - the Syli Stars of Guinea. They are a re-emerging former powerhouse of African football in the early 1970s. Ordinarily, one would assume that any team that could stop Nigeria’s Super Eagles must be a contender for the crown, but the Eagles have been a spent force in the past year and more, and would not be a good measurement of the capability of Guinea. However, the Guineans must be treated with respect during this championship although I do not see them emerging from their group. Sudan are in a very difficult group and may be too inexperienced at this level to go beyond the first round. My general conclusion even in looking more closely at the teams, the groupings and the players, have basically not changed. I still see one of Cote D’Ivoire, Ghana and Senegal take away the coveted African trophy.
Senegal and Equatorial Guinea shall come through this very difficult group that has Zambia posing as a real threat. Libya stand no chance in hell!
Cote D’Ivoire will not find this group easy or comfortable. They would have to play at their very best in every match against Angola, Burkina Faso and Sudan to avoid the mathematical calculations that are likely to come into play when the last matches in this group are played. The Ivoriens have too many exceptionally gifted players not to come through unscathed. The contest for second place will be fierce and bloody.
This could be the list difficult of the groups with two North African countries that do not usually play with the will-to-win playing against co-hosts Gabon and their vociferous supporters that would lift them beyond the tricky and more organised Tunisia and Morocco. Both countries will cancel each other out when they meet and the one that beats the whipping boy of the group with more gaols will join Gabon. Niger? How will such a debutant meander through this minefield laid by more vastly experienced teams and one with home support?
Ghana may have their small challenges in not preparing well enough, a few injuries to key players and the psychology of not winning this same championship (twice as hosts) in 30 years, but they are a well compacted team that will be extremely difficult to play against and defeat. With the experience the team now has, very mature key players and a little bit of luck, they will top the group and get to the final. They will overpower Botswana, outplay Mali and outsmart Guinea to top the group. Mali and Guinea would slug it out for second place.
Today on Complete Sports
Most Recent Stories
- » Clark: Odemwingie Won't Go Cheap (0 comments)
- » MARTINS BACK IN FULL TRAINING FOR MLS CLUB (0 comments)
- » KESHI LEADS 12 HOME-BASED EAGLES TO GERMANY (0 comments)
- » DANNY SHITTU SIGNS NEW MILLWALL DEAL (0 comments)
- » Sidney Sam Set to Dumb Nigeria (0 comments)
- » Give Rafa all the Credit! (0 comments)
- » OWOLABI: EAGLES NEED SUPPORT TO DELIVER W/CUP TICKET (0 comments)