Final day jollies
Can there ever be a good thing about goalless draws? Well, look to the future and the answer is yes. In Group E, the 0-0 between Mauritania and Angola means that everyone in the final round of games can qualify in the top two. If Mauritania beat Tunisia – unlikely as that is – then Mauritania advance. A Mauritania and Tunisia stalemate coupled with an Angola win over Mali … and Tunisia, who are one of the top seeds, are looking nervously at advancing to the last 16 as one of the four best third-placed teams. And with only three points? Nervy.
Ghana v Cameroon ended 0-0 in Group F. And of the two, Cameroon can be the more contented since they have four points while Ghana only have two. Ghana will feel they are in good shape to advance to the last 16 since they play Guinea Bissau on Day 12. And the Black Stars can take heart, says veteran striker Asamoah Gyan. “Cameroon didn’t play the way they played in the first game. They played five at the back against us which made it very difficult to break them down. Meaning? They were very careful.” Another meaning? Cameroon stay top.
It’s a marathon, not a sprint
This is the phrase used for the joys of championships. Many last from August to May over 38 games. The table never lies, the saying goes. However cup competitions are bits of luck and moments of magic. Tournament football is a game of two halves. First the mini marathon and then cup craziness. Cameroon boss Clarence Seedorf has won titles and cups during an illustrious playing career at Ajax, AC Milan and Real Madrid. His coaching career in China, Italy and Spain hasn’t been that spectacular so far but he showed tactical shrewdness in his safety first approach in the game against Ghana of five at the back.
Mauritania won their first point at the Africa Cup of Nations. After the 4-1 mauling against Mali, they played à la Cameroon and put 500 at the back. And here’s the thing, if Mauritania beat Tunisia, they’ll be into the last 16. But the Tunisians, as one of the top teams, will fancy their chances against the newcomers.
And so farewell early flush
So after the two rounds of the pool stages, we have hosts Egypt qualified along with Nigeria, Morocco and Algeria. The matches on Days 10, 11 and 12 will give us the other dozen. Heartbreak and heartache are on their way. As one legendary boss once said: Football? Bloody hell.