Category: International

AFCON 2017: The Final Reckoning

Mark Murphy sums up an indifferent three weeks of African international football. FINAL: Cameroon 2 Egypt 1 “Terrific final.” “Fabulous, thoroughly entertaining tournament.” Eurosport’s Wayne Boyce was in a generous mood, or applying for the job of writing the quotes on the advertising posters for the AFCON 2017 finals’ DVD, as Cameroon’s weakened squad produced a happy, fulfilling ending to a tournament which was neither. “Terrific second half,” would be a better assessment of a final that was only “terrific” overall in comparison to the previous six finals which finished either 1-0 or on penalties after a 0-0 draw....

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AFCON 2017: The Semi-Finals

Mark Murphy’s tip for the AFCON 2017 top were toppled. But the psychological damage inflicted on a young Garth Crooks-lookalike hurt him even more. Egypt 1 Burkina Faso 1 (Egypt win 4-3 on penalties) Herve Koffi should be a Burkinabe hero. He isn’t. Herve Koffi will be the focus of Burkina Faso’s penalty shoot-out loss. He shouldn’t be. Hassam El-Hadary is Egypt’s penalty shoot-out hero. He should never have had the chance to be. The Burkinabe master-tactician who thought a 20-year-old goalkeeper the ideal choice for among the most vital penalties in Burkinabe international football history should be the...

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AFCON 2017: The Quarter-Finals

Blimey. The best of the four AFCON 2017 finals’ groups, Group B, will be unrepresented in the semi-finals. The worst, Group D, could yet provide the finalists. Mark Murphy tries to explain… Burkina Faso 2 Tunisia 0 Aristide Bance. Christian Benteke in a grated-cheese wig. But a Burkinabe cult hero before becoming a real one to consign Tunisia to a fifth (FIFTH!) consecutive defeat in an AFCON quarter-final. The “England of Africa,” you might say, but don’t. Bance’s impact may be the abiding memory of AFCON 2017. The sparse Libreville crowd were no collective shrinking violet. But the sight...

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AFCON 2017: The Story So Far

“Mixed” puts a fractionally positive spin on the last week-and-a-half’s AFCON football in Gabon (and a huge spin on the football BY Gabon). And must hope for rather than expect the on-pitch spectacle to improve. Largely because there has been a direct correlation between quality of pitch and match. On paper (possibly a better surface than Port-Gentil), Groups B and D were of comparable quality. On Port-Gentil’s crumbling sand (all-the-more-infuriating as it is the best of the four tournament stadia), Group D was horrible. On Franceville’s relative carpet, Group B was the best-in-show. Group B winners Senegal are thus...

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AFCON 2017: The Group Stages, Round Three

Gabon 0 Cameroon 0; Burkina Faso 2 Guinea-Bissau 0 Inches. Three times Gabon were inches from being one of the most unconvincing quarter-finalists in AFCON history. Their misfortunes would normally elicit huge sympathy from disinterested observers. But they produced too many uninterested observers as they plodded their way shapelessly through matches, especially against a stodgy Cameroon. Hopeless against ambitionless, with added nerves. Nil-nil was never more appropriate. Inches, though. On four minutes, the genuinely-talented Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang mishit Denis Bouanga’s mishit-shot-turned-great-cross inches wide, 90 inches from goal. On 94 minutes, the genuinely-luckless Bouanga struck the inside of the post with...

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