- Innocence, thy name is the review.
Yes, it’s that time of the tournament where we have to rip off Shakespeare to start our review of the day’s events. But the Bard is a fine source. Michel Dussuyer quit as coach of Guinea on day seventeen. He accorded the review an interview – he’s not silly – and spoke fully and frankly. After the chinwag, the review departed into the Malabo sunshine and happened upon a charming set of fountains, adorned by resplendent blue and yellow tiles. The cathedral towered over this peaceful place. To the right, the sea and the compelling tranquillity of its depths. Seemed only natural to take a few pictures. Later the review was informed that plain clothes policemen hover around this area and are wont to confiscate photographs. Well they didn’t catch us. We must have a closer look at the cathedral. Maybe it’s really the façade to a nuclear missile bunker. Or a portal to temporal vortex. If the review doesn’t appear suddenly …
- Grant by name, rant by nature.
The Ghana coach Avram Grant, like his team, has grown into the 30th Africa Cup of Nations. It seemed like only yesterday that he was reticence incarnate. He was complimentary about Equatorial Guinea hosting the tournament at such short notice and perky about his first Cup of Nations. But that was before he became acquainted with the realities. First there was the complaint about training schedules and a bus which drove like a ship just ahead of one of the Group C games. On day seventeen, we got the full barrage. The Confederation of African Football – which organises the jamboree – should ban the Guinea keeper Naby Yattara. The 31-year-old was sent off on day 16 for his Toni- Schumacher-type hack at Asamoah Gyan at the end of the quarter-final against Ghana. The review saw Gyan being taken away after the game, being supported by two men. The 29-year-old has been for an MRI scan to assess the extent of the injury. Grant said Yattara should not be seen on a pitch for a long time. “First, it’s a bad injury,” Grant complained. “Second, if you do it when it’s 3-0 and it’s in the last minute, it means you don’t respect the game and you don’t respect the friends that play against you. For me, I don’t want to see him on a football pitch again.” No word yet on any retroactive action from CAF but Grant won’t be seeing Yattara on a CAN pitch anytime soon. He’s on his way home with the other Guinea players.
- MRI by name, far by nature.
Asamoah Gyan’s right pelvis was befriended by Naby Yattara’s studs during a match in Malabo. There are no MRI facilities on this cathedral island paradise. So Gyan had to take a plane to Bata and be driven the 200 kilometres to Mongomo where the MRI facilities are housed. It seems unusual to the review but perhaps it is logical. Gyan remains a doubt for Thursday’s semi-final against Equatorial Guinea.
- "Au revoir les enfants".
There really is nothing sacred. Not content to sully the memory of Shakespeare, we’re hacking the oeuvre of Louis Malle. The revered auteur directed a film quite a few years back – actually 28 years ago - with this title. We’re reminded of it due to the departure of Michel Dussuyer from Guinea. The connection is that Dussuyer is French and so was Malle. Anyway. The Guinea skipper Kamil Zayatte told the review just before the Group D clash on day twelve against Mali that the players had bonded to such an extent over the last few years that they were like a family and Dussuyer was like their father. We pointed this observation out to Dussuyer during our chat on day seventeen and he smiled. “There have been some tears," he confided. “You know when you’ve been five years with people and it is ending, it’s not a happy or enjoyable moment but it’s necessary. And I am lucky because usually when the coach leaves, he cannot say goodbye to his players, he just takes his bags and goes away. So I’m happy to have been able to say goodbye to my players and wish them all the best and to tell them to continue to work hard. They have a good future.”
- Being told we can’t take pictures isn’t good for the health.
And neither is smoking. Ever since the review was told that pictures aren’t really supposed to be taken near the cathedral over by the port in Malabo, we’ve been seeing sinister shadows lurking on Malabo street corners and conspiracies. Michel Dussuyer is an ardent smoker, gets through the best part of two packs a day. He said his intake went up considerably during the wait on day thirteen for the draw in a Malabo hotel to determine who finished second in Group D. Think about the increased consumption of smokers who support Guinea and Mali and maybe now we can understand why the rule was changed to a straight draw lottery from the number of cautions handed out during the group stages.