By Afeseh Apong
The 33rd edition of the Africa Nations Cup ongoing in Cameroon, has been eventful with lots of surprises recorded at the end of group games.
Some of the so call big names and favorites coming into the competition, have failed to live up to expectations, and will have to watch the remainder of the tournament from their TV screen.
Defending champions, Algeria, finishing bottom of Group E with just one point, and exiting the tournament in the first round, was probably the least expected by football pundits, just as Ghana’s chase for a fifth continental crown turned “black”.
The sad ending for the Black stars, was a history making moment for Comoros, as The coelacanths made history in their AFCON debut.
Comoros’ debut brilliance
Before the kick-off of the AFCON, it was no news that book makers tipped Comoros to finish bottom of Group C. Ranked 131 on the FIFA’s classification of National teams, and in the same group as Morocco, Ghana and Gabon who are some of the best ranked teams in Africa, The coelacanths were unfazed by the inferiority complex.
Prior to the 2021 AFCON, Comoros finished runners up in their qualifiers group, behind seven time winners Egypt, and ahead of Togo and Kenya.
A narrow one nil defeat to Gabon in their AFCON opener, showed signs of better things in the making for The coelacanths, despite falling two nil to Morocco on match day two.
A trip to Garoua, to face a power house and four time winners in Ghana, looked undesirable for Comoros, but there was hope in the horizon, as victory against the black stars could put them in the race for one of the four best thirds spots.
El Fardou Mohamed Ben Nabouhane and Ahmed Mogni were the heroes, as Comoros outsmarted Ghana 3#2. The wait was long for Amir Ed Dine Abdou and his boys, as their eighth final spot was confirmed on Thursday, following Algeria’s defeat by Ivory Coast.
Goalkeeper Boina Ben Salime has been outstanding for the coelacanths in their journey to the eighth final, but they know have another challenging but possible task against host Cameroon.
Malawi’s Third time luck pays off
Malawi Flames were in their third AFCON participation, and were seeking improvement after their last two participations (1984 and 2010), ended with early exits. In fact, the Flames had finished rock bottom of their group in their two previous participations.
Nobody tipped Mario Marinica’s side to survive in a group made up of the best ranked African team, Senegal, Guinea and fellow southern African Nation, Zimbabwe.
Opening the group stage with a slim zero one defeat to Guinea, The Flames bounced back to beat Zimbabwe two nil, courtesy of a brace from Gabadihno Mhango.
A zero all tie against Senegal in their last group game, meant it was the first time Malawi are finishing the group stage at AFCON with four points, and also progressing from the group stage for the first time. History has been made for the Flames, but more beckons them, as the challenge Morocco in the round of 16.
The Scorpions, “Killers of big teams”.
The head coach of the scorpions of Gambia Tom Saintfiet, had described his team as “killers of big teams” during one of his pre_match team talks that went viral on Social media.
Yes they did, Ablie Jallow’s last minute screamer, killed the Carthage Eagles of Tunisia, and the Scorpions are in the last 16, in just their maiden AFCON participation.
Victories against Mauritania and Tunisia, plus a draw against Mali, capped a perfect AFCON debut for Gambia.
“As a young player you don’t have to complain either you play or not. For me am ready even if the coach play me as a right back am ready.” Musa Barrow Gambian winger said after the win against Tunisia. Should his words be taken into consideration, then it shows prove of how determined the Scorpions are to sweat the jersey and give joy to their nation.
“This victory means a lot. It just shows that you can’t just read us on the books.” Ebou Adams scorpions midfielder said.
Of course you can’t read the Scorpions on the books, but their win hungry spirit on the field of play, is prove of how underdogs have become Big dogs, while the “heavyweights” return home in shame.
All rights reserved. This material and any other digital content on this platform may not be reproduced, published, broadcast, written, or distributed in full or in part, without written permission from our management.
This site is not responsible for the content displayed by external sites