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Beyond The Pitch: Insight Into The Lives of Former African Football Stars
May 12, 2012 | 0 Comments

By Zelifac Asong

Remember the world cup in 1974 and that record 9-0 bashing of the Zaire now Democratic Republic of Congo from the then Republic of Yugoslavia or the time when African countries were rated the under dogs at major international tournaments? Remember the time when there was no African name listed amongst the global stars of the game of football or when only a handful of professional players were able to ply their trade as professionals in the hugely mediatised and competitive European scene? Well football has taking the lead in the transformation of Africa. Africa is yet to win the world cup but African countries are today dreaded and Africans rank amongst the best talents in the world today. Hard to know of any soccer adept in the world today who does not know the Cameroonian Samuel Eto’o Fils or the Ivorian Didier Drogba.  These two and many others from Africa competing with the best around the world today owe their fame in part to the exploits of their illustrious elders like Roger Milla,Thomas Nkono and Francois Omam Biyick of Cameroon, Stephen Keshi of Nigeria, Kalusha Bwalya of Zambia, Abedi Pele of Ghana, George Weah of Liberia and many others. So what became of these glorious pace setters once off the pitch? The article takes a look at some of the activities of the old stars.

Talk about African football stars and one of the first names that comes to mind will be Roger Milla of Cameroon. The old lion mesmerized the world not only with his goals but with the dazzling dance in celebration at the 1990 world cup in Italy. Called from retirement, Roger Milla ended the tournament with four goals which saw an African side reach the quarter finals for the first time. He starred in a coca cola advertisement for the 2010 world cup as the originator or dancing when celebrating a goal. Roger Milla is today a Roving Ambassador in Cameroon appointed by President Paul Biya.He is an honorary member of the International Football Federation FIFA Executive body. He is also honorary President of the Cameroon football Federation and runs an NGO which helps to cater for the interest of retired footballers in Cameroon. Where there is near unanimity on his talents on the pitch, the same does not hold true for his off the pitch contribution trailed with layers of controversy. Not the most eloquent of speakers, he is constantly at logger heads with the football authorities in Cameroon. He has been vocal, sometimes too vocal of the management of football in the country and has been a thorn in the flesh of foreign coaches from Pierre Lechantre, to Winfried Schaffer, Otto Pfister and Denis Lavagne.

At the Seoul Olympic games of 1996, Zambia walloped Italy 4-1. It was a first of its kind victory especially in terms of goal margin for an African side over a European country. The main architect of this victory was Kalusha Bwalya. Lucky to escape the plane crash that decimated the Zambian National Team in 1994, Kalusha Bwalya is today the President of the Zambian Football Federation. After making Zambia a respectable football nation on the continent as a player, Bwalya continues to lead with brio as under his tenure as President of the football Federation, Zambia today boasts of its first continental title. It was an emotional sight when Zambia lifted the African Nations cup this year co-hosted by Gabon and Equatorial Guinea. With the finals played in Libreville Gabon, the victory was a befitting tribute to Bwalya’s team mates who died in the 1994 plane crash, coincidentally over the coast of Gabon. Zambia Football Association President Kalusha Bwalya basking in Glory after his country won the Gabon/Equatorial Guinea 2012 Nations CupBwalya is also a standing Committee member of the Confederation of African Football as well as the world governing body FIFA.

Big boss Stephen Keshi was a dreaded defender in his days as a player. The former Super Eagles of Nigeria Defender plied his trade amongst others with Belgian and European giants Anderlecht. As a coach, he earned further acumen when he qualified little fancied Togo for the 2006 world cup. The exploit however had a bitter ending as the Togolese fired him and brought in the German Otto Pfister to take the country to the world cup. The outing was a fiasco but many believed that with Keshi still at the helm, the Togolese will have had a better tournament. Keshi went on to coach Mali and qualified them for the 2000 Nations cup. He is today the coach of the Super Eagles of Nigeria where he is quietly working on a revolution with local talents getting the kind of chance that has been systematically denied them under previous coaches who relied solely on foreign based players.

Abedi Pele the emblematic Ghanaian footballer who was the first African to win the champions league trophy in Europe with French elite side Marseille today runs his own foot ball club. The club called Nania .F.C is designed with future hopes of nurturing the young talent to augment the fledging league of the country. Not long ago it was embroiled in a promotion play off –bribery scandal for which he was found guilty by the football association of Ghana. The allegations stemmed from a 31-0 victory of Nania Fc over Okwawu United. The guilty verdict attracted fines and suspensions for Abedi and others but were quashed by the Appeals Committee following irregularities in the initial judgements. The scandal aside, Ayew commands great respect across Africa for a career emulated by many. Africans were full of pride to see him shine in the Marseille side of Papin, Chris Waddle, Mozer, Boli; etc which was the best in Europe in the early 90s.In appreciation of his devout services to the country, the Ghanaian government awarded him the country’s highest honour the Order of the Volta. The first Ghanaian sportsman to be so honoured.

Abedi Pele in glasses presenting the BBC African Footballer of the Year Award to his son Andre.

Abedi Pele in glasses presenting the BBC African Footballer of the Year Award to his son Andre.

Nominated in 2001 to serve as Chairman of the football association .He later on passed on the opportunity to a more experienced person so as to gain some more experience he says. He is a member of FIFA’s football committee and of the players status committees of FIFA and CAF. The South African football Association had him as a spokesperson during its bid to host the 2006 world cup.

George Weah remains the first and only African till date to be named as FIFA World Footballer of the year in 1995.At the pinnacle of his career, King George starring for French side Paris St Germain was one of the most feared attackers on the planet. Weah who later starred for Italian giants Milan AC was a tremendous source of succor for his compatriots caught in the viciousness of a civil war. He ran unsuccessfully for Presidential elections in 2005 and lost to Ellen Johnson in the second round. Perhaps buoyed by the critique from some that he was not sufficiently educated, Weah went back to school and earned college degrees in the USA. In the 2011 elections, he ran for Vice President on Winston Tubman’s ticket. Watch out for Mr. George when he makes a third run when Ellen Johnson ends her last term in the next couple of years.

It will not be a surprise if Mister George becomes President of Liberia someday

It will not be a surprise if Mister George becomes President of Liberia someday

He just might be the first former footballer to become a Spresident. Weah has been known to be heavily involved in humanitarian courses and is UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador.

In 1992, Ivory Coast won the Nations cup hosted by Senegal. At the time, the country was a strong and prosperous country free from the ethnic cleavages and sinister politics that later plunge it into civil war. The man who had the honour of lifting the trophy for the Ivoirians was Gadji Celi Alain. Today a household name in music, many forget that before music, Gadji was a soccer star. His compatriot Francois Zahoui is today the coach of the Ivory Coast National Team. At the recent Gabon/Equatorial Guinea 2012 Nations Cup, the Zahoui led Ivorian National Team emerged runners up in what was considered a very disappointing outing .

Arguably the greatest goalkeeper Africa has ever produced; Thomas Nkono remains a reference for many in the continent and beyond. Juventus and Italian National Team Goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, also a goalkeeper, declared he decided to play in that position after seeing Nkono’s performances at the 1990 World Cup. In addition, he named his son Thomas in the Cameroonian’s honour. Nkono has had stints serving as Goalkeeper Trainer for the Cameroon National Team and was at some point Assistant Coach.

Arguably Africa's greatest goalkeeper, Nkono remains inspirational to many

Arguably Africa's greatest goalkeeper, Nkono remains inspirational to many

He continues to be associated with Espanyol Barcelone of Spain, a side where he spent the bulk of his professional playing career.

Many other stars who graced the game in Africa have served or still serve as coaches, Christian Chukwu, Austin Eguavon, and Daniel Amokachi of Nigeria. François Oman Biyick of Cameroon whose header brought the Argentina of the legendary Diego Maradona back to planet earth at the opening game of the 1990 world cup was until last year the Assistant coach of Cameroon. The stint did not go so well as for the first time in recent memory, the Lions failed to make it to the Nations Cup.

It was not always easy for the African stars of yesteryears .Serious challenges were faced from racial barriers, to cultural differences and the general believe that African footballers could not be as good as the Europeans or South Americans for instance. These factors ultimately impacted on wages earned. Today, Eto’0 Fils is the highest paid footballer in the world. It is heartwarming as well to see that the same zeal with which some of them defended the colours of the continent is been emulated by their sons. Andre Ayew the son of Abedi Pele was instrumental in Ghana’s Quarter Final run at the 2010 world cup in South Africa. At the 2012 Nations Cup, he and his brother Jordan were part of the Ghana National team that made it to the last four. In a rare twist of history, both Andre and Jordan play for French side Marseille, the club which their father excelled in the 90s. In Gabon, Pierre Aubame Yaya has about three sons who have earned calls to the National Team. One of them Aubameyang was a major revelation at the recent Nations cup.

These monuments still have so much to contribute to the game and do not only need to be revered but also given the opportunities to be of share their knowledge and experience. Most of the top clubs in Europe are coached or managed by those who made the game what it is .From Platini who heads the Federation to Rummenige heading Bayern ,Blanc coaching France, Guardiola until recently serving as Coach of Bayern etc, . Without necessarily copying everything wholesale, even off the pitch African stars must be given the opportunity to continue to be of service to the continent. How about Kalusha Bwalya running CAF someday, how about Bell Joseph Antoine serving as Coach of Cameroon? Lucas Radebe serving as a club President in South Africa? If Africa is a power house in the world today, it is thanks to them and perhaps at the local level, their expertise will only help lift the continent to even greater heights.

Hard to wrap this piece without a word on the passing of two monuments within a week, Rashidi Yekini of Nigeria and Jules Francois Bocande of Senegal.

Yekini in green and Bocande will be fondly remembered by football fans

Yekini in green and Bocande will be fondly remembered by football fans

Both were players of the same generation and were amongst the best in their days with incredible goal scoring prowess.

At the 1994 world cup in USA, Yekini became the first player to score a goal for Nigeria at that level. There may be gone but the glorious contributions towards the international image of African football would remain a lasting legacy.

 

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.Marrackechgate & The Downward Spiral Of Cameroon Football
February 21, 2012 | 0 Comments

By Zelifac Asong*

Once upon a time football was the pride of Cameroon. It brought solace to the people, the exploits of its clubs in the continent were legion, and the glory brought by its national team was aplenty. The name Indomitable Lions was amply justified and opponents dreaded prospects of playing with Cameroon .Every football loving Cameroonian will honestly admit a love affair with the indomitable lions, the Cameroonian senior national football squad. My love affair with the lions started in 1981, during the African eliminatory rounds of the 1982 world to be held in Spain. It was the first time I remember being aware of our national team, and of the pride and joy the team brought me and many other Cameroonians who love the game of football. Mine began with the qualifying match against morocco.

Like in most, if not, every love relationship, there have been ups and downs. There have been times when the lions have rewarded my loyalty with sweet victories and impressive results. I will never forget Mbida Arantes holding the 1984 African cup of nations high above his head as the lions paraded the streets of Yaoundé on a one sunny March afternoon. Who could forget the repeat of the performance in 1988, together with the memorable semis against Morocco? The long and hard shot from Makanaky?  We all still talk about the stellar performance of the lions at mondiale 1990, especially Omam Biyik’s miraculous header against no other than Maradona’s Argentina. Who does not remember the pride he or she felt when the lions made Africa proud by winning the Sydney Olympics in Australia.  The Indomitable Lions

Despite all these great moments there have equally been moments of frustration, sadness and almost certain divorce. The abysmal performance in 1996 Nations cup in South Africa, when an emerging South Africa, led by Dr. Khumalo and Mark Fish trounced the lions three goals to zero (3-0). A competition for which there were so ill-prepared that there arrived late in South Africa. Hard as well to forgot the 1994 mondiale in the USA. The coach Henri Michel was punched by Pagal for not including him in the list. There had to be a protest march in Yaoundé for Ndip Akem and Louis-Paul Mfede to be included in the list. At the competition itself, the indomitable lions were flogged six goals to one (6-1) by Russia’s Salenko. To crown it all, moneys collected for the players through so called “Coups des Coeur” got missing between Paris and New York according to then Minister of Communications Kontchou Kogmeni. During world cup organized by Korea and Japan in 2002, the same problems resurfaced. Players arrived in Asia with tired and heavy legs, and not enough time to rest before their opening match. Reason? The players had threatened to forfeit the trip if their match bonuses were not paid. As a result, one of the best teams the lions ever boasted of came out of the competition in the first round. In the South African world cup in 2010, Cameroon had its worst performance ever in its six participations at a world cup event.

Marrakech gate

The indomitable lions of Cameroon where in invited to four nations tournament in Marrakech, Morocco, from the 13th to the 15th of November 2011. The tournament was organized by South Korean based electronic giant LG Electronics. Equally invited were Sudan, Uganda, and host nation Morocco. The Lions lifted the trophy beating host country Morocco. The victory was tonic for disenchanted fans after the failure of the Lions to qualify for the African Nations Cup hosted by the neighbouring countries of Equatorial Guinea and Gabon. The celebration turned sour with when yet another storm brewing within the team over match bonuses became uncontrollable.  The result was a decision by the players to refused traveling to Algeria for a scheduled friendly sparking a row which went beyond the confines of football.

The scandal was a stark portrayal of the poor shape of Cameroon football. Beyond the mere aspect of sports, there were strong indications that diplomatic relations between Cameroon and Algeria could be strained. No amount of damage control could mitigate what became a humiliating moment for Cameroon football. The Cameroon Football Federation –FECAFOOT was forced to part with circa $ 500.000 in settlement of damages to the Algerian Federation.

Meanwhile the captain of the indomitable lions, Samuel Eto’o, was summoned to appear before the arbitration committee of FECAFOOT, alongside vice captain, Eyong Enoh, on charges that they were responsible for Marrakech fiasco. Also summoned was Tottenham based defender gone rogue, Assou-Ekotto for refusing to honor call ups for the national team on various occasions. On the 17th of December 2011, sanctions were handed down to the players. These sanctions were at the same time serious and controversial. Serious because there were heavy, and controversial because there did not go to the root of the problem, but seemed instead to target a particular group of players, and could therefore destroy the unity that was slowly returning to the team after the complete breakdown of team harmony during , and after the South African world cup. Samuel Eto’o was suspended for 15 matches with the national team, vice captain Enoh was sanctioned for 2 matches, while Assou-Ekotto was handed a fine of FCA one million.

FECAFOOT came under severe criticism from virtually all quarters with disgruntled fans threatening to take to the streets of Yaoundé and Douala. There were even fears that these marches, if held, could turn into a Cameroonian Arab spring. Very vocal in their criticism, were former players of the indomitable lions. The outspoken former goalkeeper of the Lions Bell Joseph Antoine condemned the sanctions as misguided, and partial. Said Bell “this is not an Eto’o problem that is why I find the sanctions unjust. The problem does not concern him personally; therefore, there is no reason for him to be singled out.” Bell felt that as captain, Eto’o had acted in the name of the team, and ought not to be singled out for sanctions. The legendary Roger Milla no stranger to controversy himself and not a big fan of FECAFOOT felt the punishment was uncalled for. Milla threatened to march himself if it was the last thing he had to do.

Also adding his voice to chorus of criticism aimed at FECAFOOT was Kalkabar Malboum, chairman of the Cameroon Olympic committee. Mr. Malboum said of the decision “this affect the future career in the national team of one of our greatest footballers of the moment.” He went to say that even on the football pitch, referees always protected the star players. Many agreed with him. Other former star players like, Makanaky , Mayebi, Mvoumin, Massing,Libiih, all agreed that FECAFOOT  was hasty in its decision to mete out punishment without due consideration for justice. There was near unanimity that the sanction did nothing to address the endemic problems of match bonuses and the cacophony which have resulted in the National Team losing its fangs.

No Prophets in Their Homeland

FECAFOOT and the Ministry of Sports which has an over bearing attitude have over the years engaged in  a cat and mouse game with the result been the unenviable position that Cameroon football occupies in the world today. The most recent rankings by the world football governing body FIFA place the Lions at the 56th position. A lamentable position for a country which used to compete with the best in the world. Each time there is a crisis; there has always been a scapegoat. At the 1990 world cup in Italy, it was goalkeeper Bell Joseph Antoine who was almost excluded from the Squad by the football authorities but for the solidarity of his team mates. In 2004, it was Coach Henri Michel who bore the brunt. At the 1996 Nations Cup in South Africa, it was Coach Jules Nyonga. At the 1998 Nations Cup in Burkina Faso, it was coach Manga Ougene and Goalkeeper Jacques Songo. After the non qualification for the 2008 world cup the scape goat was Pierre Wome Nlend. In the Ghana 1998 Nations Cup, the culprit was emblematic Captain Song Bahanack. The abysmal performance of the Team at the 2010 Nations Cup was placed on the shoulders of Goalkeeper Kameni, Alex Song and Achille Emana.Today it is Marracketchgate and the blame is dumped on Eto’o.

After the 1990 world cup where the Indomitable Lions became the first African Team to reach the Quarter Finals, Bell Joseph Antoine sensationally opined that what the Lions did to make Cameroon known around the world was a feat decades of diplomacy could not achieve. He probably was very right. For a long time and even today, tell anyone around the world you are from Cameroon and the first response will be Roger Milla or Samuel Eto’0. Milla was voted best African player about twice. Manga Ougene, Thomas Nkono, and Patrick Mboma equally were voted as Africa’s best in the past. Samuel Eto’o holds the record having been voted best footballer in Africa about four times. He is today the most expensive footballer in the world after winning all that Europe has to offer as trophies with elite clubs like Barcelona of Spain and Inter Milan of Italy.

Despite their talent, the players certainly have their fair share of short comings but the management of football in Cameroon has been at best chaotic. How comes that for all its stars, glory and stature, there is no International Stadium worthy of the name? How comes that Cameroon has not been able to host the African Nations cup since 1974? Many find it that the country of origin of Issa Hayatou who heads the Confederation of African Football since 1988 is unable to host the Nations Cup. Even President Biya who has used the glory of lions for political gains does little to encourage the sport. Recently he had to keep finalist of the Cameroon challenge cup waiting for months just to set a date for which he could be present at the final. In 1990 he claimed credit for the inclusion of Roger Milla in the world cup squad. At the 1992 elections which almost flushed him out of power, the Lion was the symbol he used .In 2002, of all the dates available, he timed the Legislative and Municipal elections to coincide with the world cup in Korea and Japan. Some thought the political calculus was to cash in on the anticipated good performance of the Lions. The strategy backfired as against all odds; the Lions could not go pass the first round. Why are FECAFOOT and the Ministry of Sports always at logger heads? Money is the answer. Everyone is fighting to get a chunk off the huge revenue generated by the National Team and putting in place structures that will facilitate the emergence of talent and sustain top notch performance is secondary. FECAFOOT has cover in the autonomy that FIFA accords its member Associations. The skeletons within the closet of Cameroon football are mammoth.

Although the 15 match sanction on Eto’0 was later reduced to an eight month suspension, kicking the can down the road is a stop gap measure which will not provide lasting solutions. Cameroon has produced enough stars whose experience could be used in moving the game to the next level. From the Federation to Coaching Assignments, the former players have at best a peripheral role. A perfect example of what they could bring to the table is the goal medal obtained at the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000 under Coach Jean Paul Akono. Toying with football could have political fallouts. Football has for a long time shielded the regime from its severe short comings. When the Lions, Cameroonians tend to forget that they have problems. When the National Team does not do well, it seems to dawn on many that things are not going right for the country.FECAFOOT President Iya Mohammed and his group may be stirring the hornets’ nest and better be ready for the consequences that may eventually come with that.

In the midst of the ineptitude of Football and sporting authorities, the Lions remain very popular and continue to fly high the flag of Cameroon all over the world. Some of them have football academies in Cameroon to fine tune budding talents. Bertin Ebwelle, Samuel Eto’o just to cite a few run football academies. Eto’o recently launched a telecommunications company in Cameroon. Roger Milla runs a Foundation in Cameroon through which he has sort to dignify former International Stars with activities which stop them from fading into obscurity. Marrackechgate may have been swept under the rug for now but it is safe bet to say beyond the damage it has had on the aura of Cameroon, there likelihood of the same problem or similar ones resurfacing remains pretty high.

 

 

 

 

 

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Heroes, villains, flops, upsets aplenty as AFCON 2012 ends
February 21, 2012 | 0 Comments

By Tana Aiyejina*

The 2012 AFCON co-hosted by Equatorial Guinea and Gabon ends today but the memories of the competition will linger on for years to come with players and teams creating a lasting impression, reports ‘TANA AIYEJINA

Heroes

Yaya Toure (Cote d’Ivoire)

Yaya Toure was influential in the results of Ivory CoastThe current African Footballer of the Year has been inspirational in the midfield for the Elephants. The big player has combined technical ability with raw physical skills to help propel the Ivoirians to the final of the competition.

The Manchester City star is the engine room of the team holding back opposing players, winning tackles and helping the team get the ball forward with his surges up the field. He grabbed a goal in the 3-0 quarter-final defeat of co-hosts Equatorial Guinea; a ferocious free kick to crown his displays.

Seydou Keita (Mali)

Keita, Africa’s second best player, showed class at the competition as he inspired the Malians to the last four of the competition. The Barcelona star grabbed the crucial winner against Botswana before he again held his nerve to convert the all-important penalty kick that sent the Malians to the semi-final ahead of co-hosts Gabon.Keita and Mali celebrating the quarter finals victory over co-hosts Gabon

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Gabon)

The Nations Cup is known for unearthing new talents from the continent and in Gabon’s  Aubameyang, a new African star is born. The ‘Gabonese Neymar’ was the major reason the co-hosts reached the last eight of the tourney, notching three goals in four games.

The 22-year-old ex-France U-20 international may have missed the penalty that cost Gabon a place in the semi-finals, but Aubameyang lit up the tournament with a series of scintillating displays, as he almost single-handedly pulled Gabon to the brink of a historic first-ever African Cup of Nations last four.

Aubameyang, who joined Ligue 1 side Saint-Etienne from AC Milan, was the heartbeat of virtually every Gabon attack throughout the tournament.

Aubameyang was one of the big revealations at the tournament.A star to watch

Aubameyang was one of the big revealations at the tournament.A star to watch

The Mohican-haired player is the son of former Gabon star Pierre Aubameyang. His brothers, Willy and Catilina, only just missed the final squad for the tourney.

Christopher Katongo (Zambia)

The Chipolopolo captain and Army Officer was instrumental in helping Zambia reach the final of the tourney for the first time in 18 years. He has scored three goals and has led by example scoring the equaliser in the 2-2 draw against Libya. He struck a wonder goal that helped the Zambians beat Equatorial Guinea 1-0 and seal qualification to the last-eight of the prestigious African competition. He scored another in the 3-0 demolition of Sudan in the quarter-final.

In recognition of his impressive showings at the tourney, President Michael Sata elevated him from the rank of Warrant Officer Class Two to One in the Zambia Army. He sure deserves it. He was also named Goal.com’s World Player of the Week for his efforts.

Manucho (Angola)

The big Real Valladolid striker was instrumental in helping the Palancas Negras qualify for the finals at the expense of Uganda and Kenya. And in Equatorial Guinea, he scored three goals in three games, including a brace against Sudan, as the Angolans were painfully eliminated in the group stages.

Libya team

The Mediterranean Knights qualified for the finals despite civil war in the North African country. In fact, some players in the squad actually fought the war on the side of the rebels. In Malabo, they improved with every game, losing their first game to Equatorial Guinea 2-1 but bounced back to earn a 2-2 draw against finalists Zambia before an emphatic 2-1 win over a disappointing Senegal side. They failed to reach the quarter-finals but they left the tournament with their heads held high.

Villains 

First it was Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, the Gabonese top striker. The ex-AC Milan player fired his country to a record-equaling last eight of the competition but he was again in the spotlight, missing the crucial penalty that sent Mali to the semi-final. It was a sight to behold as teammates and officials tried to console the sobbing 22-year-old.

Then came Asamoah Gyan, the Ghanaian striker. He was in the news again after missing the penalty that denied Ghana and Africa a first spot in the semi-final of the World Cup two years ago. This time Gyan again missed a penalty that would probably have helped the Black Stars reach the final.

For missing yet another penalty at a major tournament, Asamoah Gyan is today a villan in Ghana

For missing yet another panalty at a major tournament,Asamoah Gyan is today a villain in Ghana

Zambian keeper Kennedy Mweene read Gyan’s pose well and he dived to the right to stop the unfit striker’s tame effort. It got fans angry back in Ghana as some called for the player’s head.

Flops

Demba Ba (Senegal)

Ba is unarguably the biggest flop at the tourney. The Newcastle striker along with the Teranga Lions was highly tipped for glory at the tourney but Ba ended up as a massive flop. The second top scorer in the English Premier League failed to find the back of the net in his side’s three defeats in Equatorial Guinea but he was back to scoring ways on his return to club duties along with national teammate, Papiss Cisse, helping Newcastle to a 2-1 win in the EPL.

Jonathan Pitroipa (Burkina Faso)

Hailed as Stallions’ “Cristiano Ronaldo,” Pitroipa faded into oblivion as early as the first game. Pitroipa was largely anonymous as Burkina Faso surrendered meekly to Angola and later against Sudan as they slumped to a 2-1 defeat to the Nile Crocodiles.

The Rennes man could not rise to the occasion as his teammate Moumouni Dagano also performed below expectations.

Marouane Chamakh (Morocco)

Chamakh was probably hoping to use the Nations Cup to relaunch his career after two painful years in Arsenal but he hardly had any impact as he was not even part of the four goals scored by the Atlas Lions as they exited the competition in the group stages.

Upsets

Several upsets were recorded in the tournament as the underdog teams tried to prove a point in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea. The first major upset was recorded on match day 2 when Zambia defeated highly favoured Senegal 2-1. The West Africans eventually proved to be the worst team at the tournament, losing their other two games to Equatorial Guinea 2-1 and Libya by the same margin.

For a first participation at the Nations Cup, Equatorial Guinea was above expectations

For its first participation at the Nations Cup Equatorial Guinea was above expectations

Zambia’s Chipolopolo were not done yet as they overcame another favourites Ghana in the semi-final to reach the final. Co-hosts Gabon were in ninth heaven when they defeated North African giants Morocco and Tunisia 3-2 and 1-0 respectively in the group stage. Sudan also got the better of Burkina Faso 2-1.

*Courtesy of Punch Newspaper Nigeria,illustrations by PAV

 

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