African World Cup Qualifying Wrap: March 28-29

1 04 2009

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The African continent was in full grip of World Cup qualifying fever as the opening round of matches in the final stage of qualifiers began.  In 2006 World Cup qualifying, Africa witnessed a changing of the guard with 4 new teams making their 1st appearance in The Great Tournament and according to the results from the weekend, it might be changing again.

In Group A, Gabon stunned Morocco with a big 2-1 win in Casablanca.  Azingo Nationale got 1st half goals from teenage sensation Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Roguy Meye to get the 3 points and get off to a great start with a crucial road win. The other Group A contest saw Togo defeat Cameroon 1-0 as African Footballer of the Year, Emmanuel Adebayor scored in his return to the Sparrow Hawks from injury.  The Arsenal forward scored in the 10th minute but showed some rust when he missed a PK in the 76th minute. Despite playing in Ghana due to a home ban, Togo got the 3 points and now share the top spot with Gabon in Group A.

A couple of traditional superpowers were humbled by disappointing draws.  The 2-time defending African Cup of Nations champions Egypt were held to a 1-1 draw at home versus Zambia in a Group C match.  Francis Kasonde’s goal in the 56th minute turned out to be the point salvaging goal.  In Maputo,Nigeria’s Super Eagles were held to a 0-0 road draw against Mozambique in a Group B encounter. The draw ended Nigeria’s 6 game qualifying winning streak.

Group E was loaded with goals and marred by tragedy.  Burkina Faso beat Guinea 4-2 in the Burkina Faso capital city of Ouagadougou.  Al-Khor striker Moumouni Dagano scored twice to lead The Stallions to the victory.  The other Group E match was an ass whippin as Cote D’Ivoire embarassed Malawi 5-0.  The Chelsea duo of Didier Drogba & Salomon Kalou accounted for 3 of the 5 goals with Drogba scoring twice.  The match result was stained by the tragedy of a deadly stampede at Abidjan’s Felix Houphouet-Boigny stadium. A terrible stampede killed 19 people and injured 132 others.

The tragedy occurred before the start of the match when fans began pushing and shoving trying to get into the stadium.  According to witness accounts, fans without tickets tried to get into the stadium when police fired tear gas into the crowd, setting off the deadly stampede. The push of fans against a stadium wall caused it to collapse.  Authorities are investigating the tragedy, it would be the fourth time since 2001 that police firing tear gas into a crowd set off a deadly stampede at a stadium in Africa before a match.

Here are the results from the opening round of the final stage of African qualifying:

Group A
Togo 1 – 0 Cameroon
TOG: Adebayor (11′)

Morocco 1 – 2 Gabon
MOR: Mounir El Hamdaoui (84′)
GAB: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (34′) & Roguy Meye (45′)

Group B
Mozambique 0 – 0 Nigeria

Kenya 1 – 2 Tunisia
KEN: Dennis Oliech (70′)
TUN: Ammar Jemal (5′) & Issam Jomaa (72′)

Group C
Rwanda 0 – 0 Algeria

Egypt 1 – 1 Zambia
EGY: Amr Zaki (26′)
ZAM: Francis Kasonde (56′)

Group D
Sudan 1 – 1 Mali
SUD: Mudathir El Tahir (24′)
MAL: Frederic Kanouté (19′)

Ghana 1 – 0 Benin
GHA: Prince Tagoe (1′)

Group E
Burkina Faso 4 – 2 Guinea
BFO: Mahamoudou Kere (23′), Alain Traore (29′), Moumouni Dagano (pen 53′ & 66′)
GUI: Pascal Feindouno (pen 61′) & Kamil Zayatte (pen 86′)

Cote D’ Ivoire 5 – 0 Malawi
CDI: Ndri Romaric (1′), Didier Drogba (pen 7′ & 28′), Salomon Kalou (59′), Bakari Kone (71′)

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Better Start Talking About Africa

22 03 2009

For decades, football pundits have spilled their backhanded praises towards africa.  They are supposed to be the emerging power in the football world yet they are not able to get past the quarterfinals of the world’s greatest sporting event.

Let’s get something straight… Africa has arrived.  They are as much a part of the world footballing spectrum, the reality is that europe and South America Do Not want to admit it, publicly at least.

Yes, there are certain problems in the region socially, economically; and to a exponentially lesser degree at the federation level.  The withdrawal of eritrea and the removal of  Ethiopia were a tremendous black eye for the federation.  yet, you cannot deny that the level of play and athleticism that the other teams showed make this region a just as tough as the big two.

I sure as hell hope that this is their time.   Many have worked for this moment and now they are primed and ready to show the world what they are truly about.   I truly want the six teams to give their best come next winter for them to be major protagonists.  This generation of players are accustomed now to the success of national teams at the different youth levels as well as in the Olympics.  These players are among the elite in some of the world’s best leagues.   I mean they didn’t come from the sky or landed on European Shores by accident.  Quite the opposite, it was the European clubs that went after them.  This generation of african player is not your dad’s

also include the fact that the groups are set up in such a way that the historically best teams in the region will be present in South Africa this coming summer.

Ok, there will be no Senegal this time around as they were bounced in the second round of the  qualifiers.  still you will have the creme de la creme of African football