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Ivorian Elephants lead the charge at African showpiece

Piers Edwards | 13:13 UK time, Thursday, 7 January 2010

Sunday's Africa Cup of Nations in Angola kicks off a momentous year of football, particularly for Africa, but also provides lovers of the tournament with their biennial fix.

For this burst of colour and sunshine amidst the freezing European winter always entertains, delighting both Africans and neutrals with its intoxicating mix of spectacular football, colourful fans and hard-to-believe incidents.

More carefree than the World Cup, more colourful than the European Championships, the Nations Cup has come into its own in recent years - with Ghana 2008 having left fans salivating for more.

There were a highest-ever tally of goals (99 - including such stunners as Manucho against Egypt and Sulley Muntari against Guinea), traditionally wild tackles, extravagant haircuts (as always seen at Nations Cups), wonderful fans (my favourite being the Togolese Viking) and endless on-field drama.

Togolese Viking
The Togolese Viking provides a colourful addition to the tournament

Then there were the traditional off-field antics - the squabbles in camps vying alongside the impossible-to-explain. For how exactly will Cameroon's, and Burnley's, Andre Bikey tell his children he missed perhaps the only Nations Cup final of his career through suspension after... shoving over a medical officer who was treating a team-mate?

When I once quizzed him why, the affable defender flashed a knowing smile before saying it was something he preferred not to talk about!
Bikey will be back, but can his Indomitable Lions - or any other nation - become the first non-North African winners since 2002?

Leading the charge in dust-cloud style are Ivory Coast's Elephants, with Cameroon themselves, Ghana, Nigeria and defending champions Egypt the following pack.

My favourites, admittedly everyone else's too, are the Ivorians, who face Ghana, Togo and Burkina Faso in a tough Group B. But this is surely the last chance for the Didier Drogba, Kolo and Yaya Toure, Didier Zokora and Emmanuel Eboue generation to win some silverware.

Although they fell late on in both 2006 and 2008, I believe the World Cup finalists can win their first title since 1992 - mainly thanks to Drogba's powerful inspiration, for now 31, you sense this is the big one for a man who's hinted it may be his Nations Cup swansong.

Yet what makes Angola fascinating is the fact that there are more dark horses than usual chasing the Elephants' storm-cloud.

What about Mali, whose recent feats belie a squad boasting Momo Sissoko (Juventus), Seydou Keita (Barcelona), Frederic Kanoute (Seville) and Mahamadou Diarra (Real Madrid)? Nigerian coach Stephen Keshi knows the African game inside out, has worked previous miracles when leading tiny Togo to the 2006 World Cup (ably assisted by Emmanuel Adebayor) and is confident ahead of a tournament that has often given him trouble (see E Adebayor again).

Then the southern African sides must surely make an impression in only the region's second ever finals. It's time for under-achieving Zambia to come to the party, while the well-drilled Mozambicans punch above their weight - with winger Elias Palembe definitely one to watch, always having time on the ball despite his slender stature.

But perhaps the strongest dark horses come from hosts Angola, Gabon or Burkina Faso's (aptly-named) Stallions. The Burkinabe are spearheaded by Moumouni Dagano, 28, another to follow, for the Qatar-based striker outscored both Drogba and Eto'o in qualifying and this is his big chance to land a major move.

Didier Drogba
Chelsea's Didier Drogba will be key for the Ivory Coast

Gabon, meanwhile, flew off the blocks in World Cup qualifying before coming back to earth and if coach Alain Giresse can rediscover that form, Daniel Cousin and co. could spring a surprise against Zambia, Cameroon and Tunisia in Group D.

Finally, the hosts will surely overcome their status as the tournament's lowest ranked side. Locals are pessimistic but the team's redeeming feature is Portuguese coach Manuel Jose, all-conquering with Cairo giants Al Ahly when winning 3 African Champions Leagues. He can get the best out of a limited side, especially when home advantage is so key in the Nations Cup (the hosts having won 11 of 26 finals).

Angola open against Mali on Sunday, with Malawi and Algeria making up Group A. Despite their roller-coaster exploits in reaching South Africa, few expect England's World Cup opponents to go far so they'll be intriguing to watch - and test the patience of Fabio Capello's scouts should they trek to Angola's war-ravaged infrastructure and steamy climes.

Now to the favourites.
Nigeria are always touted but John Mikel Obi, Obafemi Martins, Yakubu and Joseph Yobo are not playing like champions. Yes, they were unbeaten when qualifying for South Africa 2010 but they were sluggish too, and Shaibu Amodu is the most under-pressure coach of any World Cup finalist - a job he can kiss goodbye if he doesn't make the semis. His side are, dare one say it, boring to watch at times but then their undoubted talent is no match for the Okocha, Amokachi and Ikpeba generation.

The Super Eagles face a weakened Egypt, with the defending two-time champions having lost key men Mohamed Aboutreika, Amr Zaki, Mohamed Barakat and Mohamed Shaky to injury - meaning Group C rivals Mozambique and Benin could profit.

This could also apply to Ghana's Group B rivals for the Black Stars have been hit by the absences of Stephen Appiah, John Mensah, John Paintsil and Sulley Muntari - leaving the onus on Michael Essien to deliver. He'll be helped by stars from the victorious U20 world championship side, like the burgeoining Dominic Adiyiah, but hopes of winning their first title in 28, yes 28 years, now seem strained.

Underlying Angola 2010 is a potential volcano which could light up the finals - for Eto'o, the highest scorer in Nations Cup history, wants to surpass the nine goals scored in a finals (by Congolese Mulamba Ndiaye in 1974) and should he go close, is Drogba going to let that happen without a fight?

Africa's two leading strikers of their generation can row all day about who is best, following their impressive club achievements, but their international records contrast in one crucial area - namely, Eto'o having won one Olympic and two Nations Cup medals while Drogba's cupboard is empty.

Surely it's time to fill it, but the Indomitable Lions, roaring forward under Frenchman Paul Le Guen and facing Gabon, Zambia and an uninspiring Tunisia in Group D, are their main obstacle. The red-hot coach has revitalised a squad bursting with talent and on the rise - Eto'o captaining a new generation of Alex Song, Jean Makoun, Stephane Mbia, Achille Emana built upon a fine goalkeeper, Espanyol's Carlos Kameni.

So Cameroon to meet Ivory Coast in the final on 31 January, Drogba v Eto'o once again (is this merely wishful thinking?) and the Elephants to top a fierce battle which, to paraphrase an African proverb, will see the grass suffer.

But don't take my word for it. My fellow journalists seem to be thinking along the same lines...

Mark Ssali (Editor of Four Four Two in east Africa)
Winners: Ivory Coast
Dark horse: Cameroon/Nigeria
Farayi Mungazi (BBC World Service)
Winners: Ivory Coast
Dark horse: Algeria
Richard Connelly (BBC World Service)
Winners: Ivory Coast/Cameroon
Dark horse: Algeria
Richard Fleming (BBC World Service)
Winners: Ivory Coast
Dark horse: Algeria
Matthew Kenyon (BBC World Service)
Winners: Ivory Coast
Dark horse: Mali
James Copnall (BBC World Service)
Winners: Ivory Coast
Dark horse: Mali


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  • Comment number 1.

    Why has the BBC abandoned the AFCON this year? In 2008 you provided excellent TV coverage. Is the BBC suffering from the credit crisis? With the winter blight (all football games under the threat of postponement) in the UK you had an excellent opportunity to show glorious football in Africa and Angola as a tourist friendly nation. Shame on the BBC for been pessimistic about a great tournament.

  • Comment number 2.

    Have to disagree with all you journalists. Ivory Coast will bottle it again. Ghana or Algeria to take the cup. Maybe an all north african final and a fierce one - Egypt vs Algeria
    The irony will be if any of the non-qualified world cup teams take the cup. Although, I can only see Egypt completing this mamoth task.

  • Comment number 3.

    It's very disappointing the BBC will not be showing the AFCON this year after excellent coverage of previous editions.

    Anyway, I do not think Ivory Coast will win the nations cup. They crumble under pressure, just look at the game against Egypt in Ghana 2 years ago. West African teams lack the mental strength to go all the way in a major tournament. But hopefully a non-North African team will win this edition of the AFCON and as for Nigeria beign boring, that is well said Pierce. That team will either go through the championship winning 1 0 or go out by drawing all the games 0 0...never seen a Nigerian side that boring in my life. Simply lack of creativity!

  • Comment number 4.

    I am a bit confused over where you can watch AFCON. I have been searching for a while now trying to find out where you can watch it. On some sites it says you can watch on BBC3 and BBCI but then others say it is not on the bbc. The bbc site doesn't tell you anything. Where can you watch it? I loved it on the BBC and I hope it is on the bbc because if it is not I won't be able to watch it.

  • Comment number 5.

    I too would like to know where to watch this tournament.

  • Comment number 6.

    Unless the BBC make a late bid for full tv rights, which may yet happen, Eurosport is the only channel showing every match live in the UK. The BBC are set to show it from the semis onwards only. A month's Eurosport can be bought for £3.99 on your computer. BBC World Service radio will broadcast commentary of most matches.

  • Comment number 7.

    The only option left for fans to watch AFCON is on British Europort (UK) and Europsort on the continent. As they say in the UK, The BBC "bottled" it by not buying the rights this year. This is why we have underdevelopment in Africa because institutions like the BBC wouldn't support us. However African broadcasters spend millions of pounds annually to purchase the Barclays EPL programming.

  • Comment number 8.

    I am not surprised that Egypt has been ruled out of the predictions for Angola 2010. We have lost the services of Abu Treika, Amr Zaki, Mohamed Barakat, and Mohamed Shawky. However, as an Egyptian I definitely hope that we prove everyone wrong and win the title for a third straight time! The opening match against Nigeria will be key. It will either give Egypt a strong push forward or be the end of this talented squad. I will hope for the former. I agree with all of the predictions concerning Ivory Coast though; they have an enviable team. They are a great team to watch - just as good as the Egyptian team of Ghana 2008!

  • Comment number 9.

    What I have realized here is that most of those journalists have no idea about African football. Yes I know Drogba is strong in the English league but that doesn't mean Ivory Coast will win the African cup of nations for they are not strong mentally. They will beat weak African teams 5-0 but when they meet teams like Cameroon or Egypt like the last African cup they get trashed. watch out for Gabon. I think Cameroon is the only team that can beat this team. I know for sure Cameroon is taking this cup. Ivory Coast is not mentally strong to beat strong teams like Cameroon with Eto'o now the new captain. I am prepared to bet with anybody. For the journalists, do your research on 2006 world cup qualifying matches and the last nations cup about Ivory Coast playing against weaker teams vs Ivory Cost playing against strong teams both at home and away. What I have noticed is that people seldom talk about the Cameroon team because their super stars don't play in England but guess what: they are always there to lead African football. Watch the world cup, they will take Africa to a different level not the quarter finals as they always lead the way and they have got a fantastic team to do just that in South Africa 2010.

  • Comment number 10.

    You know Edward, I have never really understood this Eto/Drogba comparison that one gets every now and then...or a comparison between Cameroon and Ivory Coast for that matter. These two personalities and countries are miles apart in terms of achievement and maturity. Countries like Ivory Coast, Nigeria and others in Africa basically detract Cameroon from focusing on its real competitor - Egypt!

  • Comment number 11.

    I don't buy what the commentators are saying. There is only one winner... that's Cameroon.. it is written

  • Comment number 12.

    You so-called BBC commentators know nothing about African football. Are you serious? We all love Cote D'Ivoire - no question. But they choke. Fact. They do choke. They are a team of pedigree on paper and beat up on minnows, but when they meet the African giants they choke. That will happen again! No doubt about that.

    The winner of ACN 2010 is Cameroon. Hands down. Cameroon is the team peaking at the right moment, with a proper coach and for once proper organization. They know how to win and have tons of experience to do it. This idea of Cote D'Ivoire and all these other so-called dark horses you BBC correspondents select are to create controversies. Nothing more. Mali? Algeria? Seriously?

  • Comment number 13.

    Posts 9. and 12.
    I agree with you here, it does seem the journalists have applied their knowledge and reckoning on players from the Premier League and other tournaments rather than their successes at AFCON.
    The same totally different- successes rely alot more on strength and pace, the game is tough- tackles are harder, players are stonger, and you see players like Drogba simply being swamped in the occasion.

    Cameroon to take the cup, they have raw talent and look like the only squad who will be able to battle through the competition. I wouldn't count Egypt out just yet either, regardless of injuries.

  • Comment number 14.

    "The only option left for fans to watch AFCON is on British Europort (UK) and Europsort on the continent. As they say in the UK, The BBC "bottled" it by not buying the rights this year. This is why we have underdevelopment in Africa because institutions like the BBC wouldn't support us. However African broadcasters spend millions of pounds annually to purchase the Barclays EPL programming."

    Allthough the BBC not having the rights to AFCON is a let down for people, I hardly think they can be blamed for the underdevlopment of the African nation!

    My guess is that since they now have League football rights and F1 there wasn't enough of a budger to get the rights where only a small amount of people would be watching on BBC3..

    Anyway, I didn't realise Mali had such a great team, shame 3 of there stars are basically DMs though...can't see many people scoring past them!

    The obvious favourites have to be Ivory Coast...but is this too much like saying Brazil will win every world cup?

  • Comment number 15.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 16.

    In response to a few of your comments, we have now pulled together a BBC coverage guide here:

    There will be extensive coverage on BBC radio and on this website and the two semi-finals will be available on BBC TV, with the final being shown live on BBC Two.

    There is lots more information about the tournament on our Cup of Nations website here:

    I hope this helps.


  • Comment number 17.

    this is the most open ANC. Though the Ivory Coast is favorite, i wouldn't discard Algeria's chances as the writer of the article did, it shows he hasn't much knowledge when it comes to African football. Algeria never lost to Egypt on neutral ground, hope they'll meet again.

  • Comment number 18.

    How refreshing to hear well-informed opinion on African football. Can you and Tim Vickery get a move on and bag places on the pundit sofa for BBC TV's World Cup coverage. Would make a change to hear some intelligent views.

    Meanwhile can't quite believe the BBC isn't showing it this time. It can't be that expensive to get rights. Just had a look at the schedule for all four BBC channels over the next few weeks and there is very little that couldn't be re-jigged for a 40 minutes daily highlights show. Is it too late?

  • Comment number 19.

    I think all team looks like wine cup, its difficult to say who,

  • Comment number 20.

    Apologies, wrong link - the coverage details are here:

  • Comment number 21.

    As a newcomeer I am sorry for posting a direct link to another website

    However, there are internet based sports channels broadcasting all games live. They are based in europe and have no restrictions for anyone to pay for them, so every game is FREE to watch.

    Easy enough to find on any interent search engine

    I am glad the BBC are now showing at least a highlights package

  • Comment number 22.

    I agree with most of the predictions by the BBC experts. If there is any justice in football ( I don't think there is), then the Elephants should win the Nations Cup. My predictions are therefore:

    Winners: La Cote d'Ivoire
    Runner Up: Cameroun
    Dark Horse: Algeria

  • Comment number 23.

    Best researched article I have read in a long while. Most journalists know pitifully little about african football, so thumbs up mate!

    'When two Elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers', My favourites are of course 'the Elephants' of Cote D'Ivoire

    Cote D'Ivoire

    I dont think the winner can fall outside these 5

  • Comment number 24.

    Apologies, I forgot 'the Indomitable Lions' of Cameroun

    Cote D'Ivoire 'the Elephants'
    Cameroun 'the Indomitable Lions'
    Ghana 'the black stars'
    Egypt 'the Pharaohs'
    Nigeria 'the Super Eagles'
    Mali 'The Lions'

  • Comment number 25.

    Apologies again, I meant 'the Eagles' of Mali!

  • Comment number 26.

    I enjoyed reading your well research comments on African football. However, I will disagree with you on who will win the cup. Mark my word, Ivorian Elephants will not lift the cup, Nigeria will. 'The battle is not always for the strong nor the race always for the swift'. Even then, Nigeria has what it takes to win African cup of Nations. Watch out.

  • Comment number 27.

    So looking forward to this and disappointed not to be there - I have a great picture of myself with the Viking from Eqypt...

  • Comment number 28.

    i am really dissapointed with the BBC for not covering the CAN this year! i was working for 'The Statesman' newspaper in Ghana last year when the CAN was on and the coverage you had was brillient and there was always someone about at the press conferences! as far as my predictions go, Angola will be in the final. They are a good side, and they will have the home uspport advantage, which is phenominal in this tournmuent, not many people from the other countries can afford to make it to Angola to be at the cup so they have a massive advantage there. as for the other finalist, it will be whoever wins group B. that is by far the hardest group!

    my heart wants the black stars of Ghana to win, however without lots of key players through injury, i dont think we have the depth, but with the Under 20's we have drafted up, there could be a surprise.

    I love the CAN, the thing i love most about it is the festival spirit of the tournument, and what about the chicken man for Ghana when your talking about colourful support. he brings a chicken to every game! legend!!!

    This is Africas time to shine, this is a starter to the main course of Africa's 1st world cup. Im excited! :)

  • Comment number 29.

    @7 you blame the bbc for generalised underdevelopment in africa... whatever that means i don't know but you're clearly as daft as a brush. I would like to watch it but it looks like I wont get the chance, never mind.

  • Comment number 30.

    can't understand why everyone is being so critical of the commentators opinions, to make a judgement on qulaity of players and current form... oh yes... now that is daft isn't it

  • Comment number 31.

    There will be traditional qualifiers after the group stages,the drama will unfold during the quater finals stage.I wonder why BBC allocates a small slot in the web pages for what promises to be an exciting Nations Cup.

  • Comment number 32.

    What is the basis of tipping Algeria as dark horses.Is it because they denied Egypt a world cup place?I am of the opinion that Coted ivoire will fall like a pack of cards.Cameroon has the upper hand and according to world rankings ,Nigeria is second favorite

  • Comment number 33.

    The African teams, viewed through European eyes...

    Cote D'Ivoire are the Spain of African football - So much potential, great players, beautiful football but surprisingly few trophies to show for it

    Cameroun are the Germany of African football - Strong, Iron-willed, can be depended on to grind out the right result. Seldom lose on penalties, calm under pressure and usually blessed with a good goalkeeper.

    Egypt are the France of African football - Great passing football, excellent work ethic, technical brilliance, emphasis on great team work blend of some great players with players who though relatively unknown are really good.

    Ghana are the Italy of African football - Good defensively, strong and powerful, never to be under-rated. Have won their fair share, only second to Egypt on the number of wins

    Nigeria are the England of African football - Just like their colonial masters, much press hype about their chances of winning every tournament and how great the players are but usually they flatter to deceive. They always believe they are the best. Occasional flashes of utter brilliance but disappoint when it matters. Lose on penalties often!

  • Comment number 34.

    Excellent post @33. Did you really mean to write France there though??

  • Comment number 35.

    It is a pity that despite the array of stars of players scattered abroad,the coach,still deem it fit to take only injured players.Almost half the squad have one nagging injury or the other.The issue is-can a coach win a trophy or go past his target(semifinal place as for Amodu) with so many injured players?

  • Comment number 36.

    @34 it was a difficult choice, I just France were the closest fit. Any ideas?

  • Comment number 37.

    Sports Pundits like to play safe a predict Ivory Coast. but we all know they will not win. They might not make it beyond the group stages. Ghana will win it period. Ivory Coast is over rated. they defence is weak couple with poor goal keeeping

  • Comment number 38.

    Success in the African Cup of nations has been largely with the North and West African Sides, notably Egypt, Ghana, Cameroon etc. However I have observed that in the past 6 or 7 tournaments, the teams that have been highly favoured to win it have never actually done it. A typical example was Ghana 2008. Egypt having won it in 2006, we would have expected them to be favourites but the BBC pundits were favouring Ghana because of maybe home advantage and largely due to their belief that because people like Essien were doing wonders in the EPL (God bless Ahmed Hossam (Mido) & Amr Zaki) it was a foregone conclusion he was going to dominate AFCON. We all know what happened. Seems they havent learnt, they are again backing Ivory Coast, at the expense of the current holders, just because of 3 or 4 injured players? But then before 2006 who knew anything about Zaki, Abbou treika or Mo Abdelwahab? It goes to show that the AFCON is probably one of the most difficult tournaments to predict.

    I know I have used Egypt at the core of my arguement, but I am neither Egyptian or routing it to win. AFCON is full of surprises. Coming up with a list of favourites can leave you with an egg in your face. Football in Africa is at a different level and as seen by Guinea's perfomance 2 years ago, a lot can happen.

    I do not believe in hyping teams just because they have loads of Premiershi Stars because when we go to tohe heat and dust of Benguela, South West Africa, football is at a different level. Had it been for equal opportunities, perhaps the Black Mambas' Manuel Tico Tico is a far much better player than Mikel Obi or Drogba. Ha ha did i hear someone wonder who Tico Tico is? My advice is, probably the people with the best knowledge of African football are the Africans themselves.

    Here's my list of players I reckon will do well,

    - Mantoras
    - Gervinho
    - Tico Tico
    - Chris Katongo
    - Vincent Enyeama
    - Karim Haggui
    - Mo Zidan
    - Jean Makoun
    - Yaya Toure
    - Asamoah Gyan (high time as well)

    As for the winner??? let the best team win

  • Comment number 39.

    This hype about Ivory coast started soon after the world cup draws was drawn.Foreign observers are hyping Cote d ivoire without looking at their Pedigree in the continental stage.

    Truth be told,the Ivorians side are a force to be reckon with,but ask yourself when last did they lift the nations cup?(if at all they have).

    Generally speaking Ivory coast stands a chance to win,but so also does Mali and Ghana and don't even dare write them off.

    Since time immemorial,the African Nations cup circulates around four countries viz Egypt,Cameroon,Nigeria and Ghana.

    History will definitely repeat itself.

  • Comment number 40.

    my predictions:one of the following 3 will win it

    Ivory Coast (Best team in Africa the last 2 years)
    Cameroon (Always there and thereabout)
    Algeria (Best improved team in Africa,very technical and very dangereous in set pieces. met Egypt 3 times they beat them twice)

  • Comment number 41.

    @36 - just wasn't sure about France's work ethic that was all! Other comparisons spot on!

  • Comment number 42.

    "More carefree than the World Cup" No! Really?? You mean unlike the Unibond Premier? Still, those Togolese Vikings will compensate for all the rubbish football, eh?

  • Comment number 43.

    Rubbish football? Drogba and Eto'o are the two most reliable and effective strikers in the game.

  • Comment number 44.

    I wonder what the fan turn out will be for this tournament. Particularly for the north and west african teams because angola is farther away from them than say zambia, malawi or mozambique.
    If turn out is very dissapointing in the first few games, then the organisation can do what the Nigerians did in the U-17 tournament last year - i.e. admit people in for free to create a good atmosphere.
    Hoping for a great tournament.

    PS:- From what I hear, Nigerians hope that their team fails miserably so that the coach Amodu can be sacked and we can hope for a better performance in the world cup. I have mixed feelings about this because even if we do sack the coach, then what guarantee the new coach will do any better with the few remaining months leading upto the world cup in June. Maybe Piers sees this post, he can enlighten me with his thoughts.

  • Comment number 45.

    My mate is GUTTED!!!!!

    Was all set to fly out to Angola tomorrow for 2 weeks. Just before Christmas he was advised that there were problems with obtaining a visa but he couldn't sort anything out until the embassy in London re-opened this week. Went back this morning only to be informed that the visa has been declined.

    Apparantly a few years back someone with an identical name caused a political problem or two and was expelled from the country.

  • Comment number 46.

    At least I know Nigeria won't win it.Absolutely hopeless team who care more about their various clubsides than the National team.Hope they go out in the group stages

  • Comment number 47.

    @46 A certain Liverpool captain does come to mind eh?

  • Comment number 48.

    For quite some time now, it seems as if most sports commentators have conspired to relegate the Cameroonian Lions to the back-burner and this even as FIFA still classifies the Cameroonian team as the African leader. What is actually wrong? However, perhaps this may actually be good for the Cameroonian side because by being considered underdogs, less attention and by implication less fire-power would be concentrated on the team by its opponents during the upcoming competitions, (CAN and World Cup) thus enabling it to slip through to the finals and win the cups.

  • Comment number 49.

    @34 it was a difficult choice, I just France were the closest fit. Any ideas?

    You did a great job with the comparisons. I will however swap the places of France and Germany. I think Egypt is more like the Germans - several unsung heroes in their team and sure bet to do well. Also as a Ghanaian, I wish the Black Stars were blessed with the defensive talents of Italy!! Especially, in these times. Good analysis though.

  • Comment number 50.

    Under current circumstances I can understand the BBC reluctance to show the whole tournament. But it may have been better to show from quarers as this is when the competition gets serious.

    Even so, I am backing Cameroon, they have the most complete squad in africa from the Goal Keeper through midfield to Attack. Just pray they don't play Geremi because he certainly looks to be winding down.

    Ivory Coast are only peoples favourites on the surface, I've seen this very talented side crumble when teams actually attack them. The likes of Cameroon, Egpyt, Nigeria and Ghana will not fear to duly attack them.

    Perhaps this is the competition that people abandon the expectations over Ivory Coast but they go on surprisingly win the whole thing!

  • Comment number 51.

    #33 I don't see the so much potential great players Ivory Coast has except Drogba. All the other players are just average players like most players in other African teams. It doesn't mean because they have some players in the English league or because they always pounce on weak African teams that they have great players than other teams. I think the greatest team in this tournament is the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon. Now that they are finally organized with a great coach and Eto'o as captain, I don't see any team in Africa beating them. (You can ask Alain Giresse).

  • Comment number 52.

    My prediction

    Group A-mali algeria

    Group B-ghana cotedivoire

    Group C-egypt nigeria

    Group D-cameroon tunisia

    This is where my prediction ends .It will be a tough quater Final

  • Comment number 53.

    And this just in....
    Angola v Mali OFF Due to a frozen pitch.

  • Comment number 54.

    wonderful warm welcome to africa for the togo bus then, less of that please we want to watch some football.... or not as the case may be with it being on what channel.... eurosport? irony

  • Comment number 55.

    I agree with you #48. Before it was always Nigeria considered by the journalists as the best team in Africa eventhough Cameroon was the Country winning everything. Now it is the Ivory Coast though they are not winning anything and have not won anything compared to Cameroon apart of punishing weaker teams. Chief, let me tell you something when you are always winning, it becomes boring to the journalists so they have to fabricate somebody else as the best for publicity and grab the attention of more readers.

  • Comment number 56.

    @51 Arent you being rather dismissive?

    Players like Kolo Toure (Manchester City, England), Emmanuel Eboue (Arsenal, England), Guy Demel (SV Hamburg, Germany), Arthur Boka (VfB Stuttgart, Germany), Yaya Toure (Barcelona, Spain), Didier Zokora (Sevilla, Spain),Salomon Kalou (Chelsea, England), Kader Keita (Galatasaray, Turkey), Aruna Dindane (Portsmouth, England), Gervais Yao Kouassi 'Gervinho' (Lille, France) are average?

    Would your definition of average mean 'players not playing in the English Premier League'?

    Of particular mention, have you seen Kader Keita, Gervinho, Arthur Boka or Guy Demel in action for their clubs? These are super super player. That the English press does not hype them don't mean a thing.

    And how on earth can anyone describe Yaya Toure as an average player? If you offered Fabio Capello Yaya Toure for England's Defensive Midfield position, he would bite your hand off!

  • Comment number 57.

    Another unsung hero would be Taye Taiwo -Left Back -(Marseille, Nigeria), have you seen that guy in action? He is very similar to Aly Cissokho who plays for Lyon (if not better considering he scores so many goals from set pieces)

  • Comment number 58.

    Who cares? This tournament has zero credibility. It's the football equivalent of the womens' BDO darts World Masters. A total footnote.

  • Comment number 59.

    @58 Amazing that you were interested enough to read the article and even made the effort to comment seeing as you don't care

  • Comment number 60.

    BBC has once again shown itself to be a miser when it comes to spending on good football programmes. Now, how about putting some of the 'Wonathan Woss' pay-packet into paying for ANC tournament.

    Alex Tricket@16 says the two semi-finals will be “available”, but what does it mean? That it might not be live or it might even get the “Match of the day treatment” (1. show a goal as many times and from every possible angles to stretch the time; 2. Show football managers and their benches for no apparent reason except to stretch the time; 3. Get Garry Lineker or Adrian Charles sofa commentators to further stretch the time).

    But why would anyone watch the beautiful game on Eurosport and come and discus it on a BBC forum? That would be unfair to Eurosport, wouldn't it? BBC doesn't want to spend, but wants a piece of the action -- how about that!

  • Comment number 61.

    The 'BBC World Service' syndicate (actually, they all work for the BBC World Service, and there is, therefore, no reason to treat them, statistically, as anything but one voice or vote) chose Cote D'Ivoire as their favourite: Indeed Cote D'Ivoire is a good side, but the players have a tendency to fizzle out, like a nail-punctured lorry tyre, and become almost half their former selves towards the end of the tournament. It could be caused by their preparation, training schedule or diet or combinations – I don't know!

    I am, however, looking forward to seeing Drogba being kicked left and right and see how he reacts. In the EPL he would moan and demand the referee attention or protection but he would do no such thing in the ANC tournament, because it is not manly and Africans frown at such antics, there!

  • Comment number 62.

    I have to disagree. Ivory Coast will not win so as Cameroon. Cameroon struggled in qualifying to the World cup so would be very surprised to see them lift the trophy. Ivory Coast has an easy qulaifying group so they have not been tested since losing to Egypt 4-1 in 2008.
    Everyone wrote Egypt off in 2008. I have to say one thing about the Egyptian team, they do very well against West African teams but they usually disappoint against North African rivals. African superpowers tend to play attacking football against Egypt. Egyptian players play well if they have space. Please remember their performance in the FIFA Conferederations Cup against Brazil and how they frustrated Italy. Zidan is the key player for Egypt not Abu Terika.
    The Algerians are a very strong team tactically so I expect them to be the black horse of the tournament.
    Remember the following names:
    Hadary, Zidan, Ghaly, Gedo and Gomaa. Egypt has one star in each line who form the spine of the team.
    EGYPT will lift the cup for the third time. GO EGYPT GO!!!!!

  • Comment number 63.

    To be totally fair, I watch the Spanish La Liga a lot and there is a lot of protection for players (not just the talented players) unlike the Premier League where it would seem we assume the kicking people and tackling are one and the same thing.

    Talented players like Drogba, C. Ronaldo (when he was there) then had to find a way to protect themselves or else they could end up spending most of their careers on the treatment table. Just compare how often Arsenal, Man United or Chelsea players get injured with statistics from Barcelona or R. Madrid.

    I dont support play acting or footballers acting like wimps but really an awful lot of kicking does go on in the pretexts of tackling, in some cases totally unnecessary.

  • Comment number 64.

    Very sad to see the reports of shootings! Looks very serious. Best wishes to the Togo team, hopefully none of the injuries will result in a fatality.

  • Comment number 65.

    I love the African Cup of Nations! I think Ghana will win it this year. Michael Essien is the best footballing athlete ever.

  • Comment number 66.

    What are Africans becoming? Football is arguably supposed to be the only uniting thing left for this dispossessed continent. Yet African gun-totters can afford to fire at those who bring us so much pleasure, make us momentarily forget the thievery of our leaders and feel like humans even if it is always only for ninety minutes. It is very shameful!

  • Comment number 67.

    #62 Cameroon did not struggle to qualify they just started slowly by losing to Togo 1-0 and having a 1-1 draw in the second game with Morocco in Cameroon. After that they got rid of their coach, brought in a brilliant coach, made Eto'o the captain and got organized. The rest of the competition was history. They won all four remaining matches home and away. Beat Gabon home and away 2-1 and 2-0 respectively, next they trashed Togo 3-0 and the final game was in Morocco where they pounced on the Morrocans 2-0. How can you call a team that won all 4 of it's remaining matches a struggling team. Let me remind you that the team Egypt beat in Ghana at the finals was a very very disorganized team put together by a coach who had only been appointed 3 weeks before the competition started but they still managed to reach the finals beating the host nation Ghana who was considered with Ivory Coast as the favourites. That is why I say no team in this competition can beat them. They are now very organised and disciplined and when Cameroon is this organized as I have watched them, you better be careful of the Indomitable Lions.

  • Comment number 68.

    #56 When I said average players I meant the other African teams like Mali, Nigeria, Ghana have similar players playing for clubs like the ones you mentioned. Cameroon even have them in abundance that is why they always win. Watch this: Cameroon: Samuel Eto'o fils (Inter Milan Italy; Lead Barcelona to win the la liga with 31 goals and the UEFA championship by scoring at the finals last year.) Alex Song (Arsenal), Assou Ekotto (Tottenham- England), Bassong (Tottenham - England), David Ngog (Liverpool-England), Andre Bikey (Burnly-England), Carlos Kameni(Espanyol-Spain), Achille Webo (Mallorca-Spain),Achille Emana (Betis-Spain) Jean II Makoun (Lyong-France), Mbia Stephane (OM - France), Bedimo (Lens- France), Chedjou Aurelien (Lille-France), Alo'0 Efoulou(AS Nancy-France), Nkoulou Nicolas (AS Monaco-France),Eyong Enoh (Ajax- Amsterdam), Matip Joel (FC Shalke 04-Germany), Mandjeck (Kaiserslauten-Germany) Idrissou (Sc Freiburg-Germany), Rigobert Song (Trabzouspor-Turkey) and many many more.

  • Comment number 69.

    #68 LOL. Johnny on paper the cote d'ivoire team is much better than cameroon. David Ngog doesn't even play for cameroon!!! You might as well list maradona as part of the lions squad. But it's not important because football matches are won on the pitch not on paper. Cameroon strength is their mentality and teamwork, not superstars. Eto is a superstar but he always gives 100%.

    #56 Dapsy. Good comment. Unfortunately some people don't watch a lot of football, but still comment about players and teams they've never even watched!! Nutters.

    Africa is full of good players and the general level is very high now. I watched Tanzania vs Ivory Coast. Tanzania were excellent - quality composed passing football. I also saw Gambia vs Angola. Gambia were very impressive - skillful football within a sophisticated tactical framework. But people will see the results of these games and assume that Ivory Coast are over-rated. The talent in Ivory Coast is frightening. More and more are coming through. It shows the benefit of taking youth development seriously with the ASEC Abidjan academy. I challenge anybody to look at these Ivorian strikers and not be very impressed. D.Drogba, S.Kalou, A.Dindane, Gervinho, K.Keita, B.Kone, S.DOUMBIA, B.Sanogo, L.Traore, Y.Konan, S.Cisse, A.Kone, F.Guela...all of these players are very very talented. Any of them would get in the cameroon team. BUT it's on the pitch that counts. May the best team win.

    My team is Zambia. We don't have many stars, but we play as a team. Good football.

    Peace to one and all. Let's pray it's just football from now on.

  • Comment number 70.

    BTW Piers. I don't remember seeing a single "wild tackle" at the last African Nations cup...what a stereotype. Wild = savage = africa. Come on, you could have said "commited" (but that's for Brits only), or "powerful" or "uncompromising" or even "ambitious". Not to mention "perfectly timed" and "miraculous saving"..but no Africans are "wild" apparently. Before anyone talks about sense of humour... Perpetuation of racial stereotyping is not funny. THANKYOU.

  • Comment number 71.

    #69 You sound like one of those who was always saying Nigeria was the best African team eventhough Cameroon was doing all the winnings. On my paper, Cameroon has the best team. I don't operate on your paper. For your information those your Ivorian players cann't qualify to play in a Cameroon team for they are not mentally strong. There are a lot of such players in Cameroon but cann't qualify to play for the lions because they are not mentally strong. That is why Cameroon still has players like Rigobert Song playing. These are what they call iron players in Cameroon. Drogba knows he cann't mess around him. For your information again, There is no French name as Ngog. He is a typical Cameroonian and read my lips: "Ngog will play for Cameroon". Lastly since Ivory Coast has such a strong team according to your paper, Could you please tell me which strong African power house we all know that they have faced of recent and won? You might hate Cameroon but they have always proven to be the best. FIFA does not lie. However, it's OK to hate the best. It's very normal and happens everyday. I will like to see your comment after the tournament. (Cameroon is the best on my paper and they always win to prove it and FIFA does not lie)Good luck my brother

  • Comment number 72.

    BBC,only talk good about Ivory coast...bcoz of the EPL,players. let me tell you something. If Mali,can played with heart and as a team...they can surprise the world. Mali,has great world class players...they just have to showed it.

  • Comment number 73.

    To # 66
    Ur absolutely right. These Angolese are shame...uncivilized nations. How can they shot at soccer players with machine guns...its beyond my imaginations? Soccer,is sport...and sport, is about fun...not politics.

  • Comment number 74.

    I know Ivory Coast have a strong team and will, no doubt, progress far into the competition but I strongly fancy Cameroon to win this. They came so close last time out in Ghana and I reckon theyll prove too strong for everyone.

  • Comment number 75.

    #71. LOL. I love Cameroon. "Kunde, Ekeke, Nkono, Ebwelle...Maka Maka Maka..Makanaky..." - A.Song is my favourite player in this team. I like all their players. S.Tchoyi is a nice player too. Cameroon will be great this year. Don't disrespect the other teams though brother.... Roger Milla...Roger Milla a la ball!!! Good luck and God bless.

  • Comment number 76.

    What about CAN 2006? cameroon 1-1 Cote D'Ivoire (pens) both teams showed a lot of iron will that day.

  • Comment number 77.

    I don't think troubled countries like this should be allowed to host any competition. This is beyond any normal human beings imagination. CAF has to consider the safety of players first before choosing a Country to host a competition and I strongly agree with the Togolese team to boycott the competition. How can you concentrate with an incident like this? This might be easy for some people but for some of us who have never heard a gun shot nor see somebody being shot, this is very devastating. Is the Government there in control? If not CAF should have never let them host this competition.
    My prayers go to those Togolese who were injured including the driver and the others who lost their lives.

  • Comment number 78.

    Can't still believe that the game will not be live on bbc.the last coverage was is really a sad news.but nigeria will win the cup anyway.

  • Comment number 79.

    Unfortunately every country in the lesser developed world has its black spots. This has very interesting parallels between what happened in Pakistan to the Sri Lanka cricket team last year.

    Its a real shame that such a thing has overshadowed a great competition and show-piece before Africa's first World Cup.

    However sport shall always overcome such cowardly acts as terrorism. I hope the Togolese fight back for the name of sport.

    My pick however is Cameroon who look like very strong contenders under PLG.

  • Comment number 80.

    #76 Cameroon had a 1-1 draw with Ivory Coast back then because of what I have been citing, lack of organization and good coaching like the last CAN. What I am trying to let the World know and Samuel Eto'o said it today is that the Cameroon team for the first time is organized and has the coach they wanted. Don't say I didn't warn you.

  • Comment number 81.

    Africa's its that time when we get to crown the champions of the continent. am going for the chipolopolo the copper bullets of zambia to spring a surprise, they have a good team and with a sharp striking force, can humble any team.

    am however disgusted by some comments from europeans clubs who are crying foul over the timing of the touranment, they should know that as much as they pay these players lots of money, they can not buy the pride of africa

  • Comment number 82.

    Johnny, i think you are right.let nobody say they were not warned by you. Cameroon should be the most feared football team now on the Africann continent.The world Cup itself wont be easy for their adversaries...I know Bassong and Bikey would be around then.PLG,I like the way you placed the cards on the table to instilling discipline into that team...Eto`o cmeroon will need more goals with higher levels of inspiration.Africa wants to see you break your own record...D.Drogba, this is your last chance, so please do display the 'Joker'you have been keeping...Nigeria, we want more action from you guys.Super Eagles need to fly really high.Stop letting this continent down with deceit.We want action and results...Egypt, you have injuries, but this doesn`t make you underdogs.......I greet you all my out for the Indomitable lions-2010 version.

  • Comment number 83.

    it's a shame to what happened to the Togo team. FIFA and Sep Blatter in particular share the blame for not taking action against the Egyptian FA when Algerian Players coach were attacked in Cairo. Algeria v Cameroon in final.

  • Comment number 84.

    I agree with you here, it does seem the journalists have applied their knowledge and reckoning on players from the Premier League and other tournaments rather than their successes at AFCON.
    The same totally different- successes rely alot more on strength and pace, the game is tough- tackles are harder, players are stonger, and you see players like Drogba simply being swamped in the occasion.

    Spot on mate. Reading the blog you would admire the writers knowledge of European football, not African. I will however have to disagree with you about the speed and pace bit. The African teams have strong fast and athletic players. They are used to harder conditions, and the refs let the game flow. What you will see is strength, power, attritional and at times brutal football. Premieship players will keep away from the action and I don't see Ivory Coast winning this one. In the past the smaller teams have stood and watched, given the Drogbas and Toures space.. I don't think that that will happen. Everyone will have learnt from Egypt - stick in and hurry the favorites, dig in and push them around, and you can win. Cameroon for me. Angola Mali and Algeria dark horses. No Ivory Coast, no Nigeria and definitely no Ghana.

  • Comment number 85.

    Akeem@73: "These Angolese are shame...uncivilized nations."

    Read the account of the event and background of the trouble in that part of Angola before you start calling any nation “uncivilized”. There are rebels operating in the oil producing, but tiny Cabinda province of Angola and the attack was NOT by the 'Angolan nation' but by rebels -- the Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda (FLEC) -- operating in that region. The Angolan government were anticipating possible trouble and had troops at the border crossing, but were caught by surprise.

    If you are a Nigerian, FLEC is not unlike the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND). And FLEC have claimed responsibility for the shooting, and has also threatened more attacks during the tournament. The question is: (albeit too late) why did FIFA and CAF give the tournament to Angola knowing that FLEC poses possible threat to the tournament? The Angolan government should quickly find solutions to halt any more attacks during the games – even if that means making concession to FLEC.

  • Comment number 86.

    The BBC are losing a golden opportunity of gaining extra casual viewers with their (reversal of?) decision not to show decent coverage of the African Nations Cup.

    With this year being a World Cup year (just a few months after the african tournament) you would have been guaranteed far more casual viewers than in any other year. Plus, it's an early chance to view one of England's group opponents in competitive action (Algeria).

    Along with many others, for months i have been anxiously scanning for confirmed details of the BBC covering all the football matches in the 2010 African Nations Cup. People were placing queries in several forums on the web. Especially, as there were/are still many links quoting that BBC will be showing all matches in the competition.

    It now turns out that you will only be showing the semi-finals and final! That is very disappointing news and a bit of a strange clanger in view of your past extensive coverage of the tournament. Indeed, i see you deem it important enough to be providing a dedicated section on your website (which also has an african football section).

    You've covered it previously at a time when football fans rarely showed interest outside their own clubs and weren't even overly concerned with our own national teams. One only has to look at all forms of media to see that fans interest now stretches much farther and, as i say, just months away from the world cup and lots of premier league and other top players involved.

  • Comment number 87.

    Great Shame that the BeeB has such limited coverage. I sat through the CAN2006 with great pleasure and the coverage really allowed me to great view of football played at a very high level. To posters who think this tournament is a foot note...stop watching the EPL and wake up..The football played is of a very high quality, very physical and you can see several future stars in the making.

    Much as the EPL teams might complain you can bet that all the scouts will be there looking for new players

  • Comment number 88.

    although i agree with the predictions, i believe that the Ivory Coast downfall will well be their back four as Kolo haven't been the same player since his injury two year ago at this same competition,Eboue hasn't really played much football this season for the Arsenal,Meite doesn't even feature for West Brom and Boka just returned from injury at his German team,the goalkeeper is just not good enough sorry. so as long as the back four area of the team is sorted out then they will go all the way.
    as of the coverage, can anyone tell us where else to see the games other than on the BBC coverage of just the last 3 games.finally express our sympathy to ade and the all nation of Togo for this tragedy but i think pulling out isn't the right decision, the terrorists would have won it then.

  • Comment number 89.

    The Togo shootings are the worst possible start to the year of African football and will only skew some people's perceptions of the continent further. It must be emphasised that this did not take place in the host country of the African Cup of Nations itself.

    This isolated incident does not, in any way, represent Africa in microcosm, nor does it represent a typical African Cup of Nations experience.

    Having said this, Togo have every right to withdraw, and the LOC must now move the Group B games south of Cabinda.

  • Comment number 90.

    @88 Fabian...eurosport UK or europe and there are games being shown online for free (use google)
    @98 would completly agree that the Togo team have every right to withdraw...I could not even imagine the horror of seeing someone you know shot and then be expected to play a game. puts everything into perspective.

  • Comment number 91.

    @85, AkaExpensesFiddler

    How dare you compare Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta with the rascals from Angola who did this uncivilized act to the Togolese national team.

    The MEND do not take lives, not innocent lives. MEND is all about oil and justice in the Niger Delta. They can kidnap those inthe oil industry but would not attack innocent footballers to protest over Government failures

  • Comment number 92.

    @ 55 Johnny,

    Why do you keep drumming about Cameroun. Obviously, weather you like it or not, the Ivory Coast are the African best team in terms of quality footballers. But if they will end up winning the tournament is another arguement, as the 2008 Nations Cup exposed what the under-dogs can do to the favourites, where Egypt trashed the Ivory Coast 4-1. The present Cameroun team is not as good as the Ivory Coast team.

    You seems to forget the role of Issa Hayotu (CAF President) in the politics of Cameroun winning the African nations cup. Do you think Cameroun would have won the nations cup this much if it was not for the refs favouring the CAF President by officiating in favour of Cameroun.

    Aparts from the Congo that lost disastrously in 1974, the next African nation to disgrace Africa is Cameroun, lossing to Russia by 6-1. Cameroun is the only team in World Cup history to have gifted a single player with 5 goals.

    The period that it was said that Nigeria was the best team in Africa, Nigeria was actually the best team, with players like Kanu, Okocha, Amokachi, Finidi, Olise etc. Cameroun was the best at the time of Ceril Makanaky, Emmanuel Kunde, Roger Miller, Thomas Nkono, Ekeke etc. Today, the Ivory cast have got the best players in Africa, bt they are yet to prove it as Cameroun and Nigeria proved at the world cup and Olympics.

    Dont make this a Cameroun/Nigeria rivalry as both nations have gone through their spells and are beginning to get back to reckoning. Mind you, Nigeria never lost to any team during the qualifiers and cannot loose to team like Togo the way cameroun did.

    Who ever says the Ivory Coast may win it is right to say so. Just like you think Cameroun will. Nigerian players can win it for themselves if they want to, bt the Nigerian people would wish the team does not do well so that the coach will be sacked. But dont under-rate the Nigerian team and when the press thought Nigeria was better than Cameroun, Nigeri was.The last time both teams met, Cameroun with Eto lost to Okocha and Kanu. It will go the same way if both teams met again.

  • Comment number 93.

    #91 dennis I strongly agree with you

  • Comment number 94.

    #92 dennis I don't think you know anything about football. The refree didn't help Cameroon reach the finals in Ghana beating Ghana the host nation. The referee didn't help Egypt trash the Ivory Coast 4-1 in Ghana(Infact no strong team in the world can be trashed 4-1). The referee didn't help Cameroon be the first team in Africa to reach the quarter finals in the world cup (Infact they will break another African world cup record in South Africa 2010 and it wouldn't be because of the referees.) All I am saying is that you cann't say Ivory Coast is the best in Africa when they have nothing to prove that. Cameroon has proven it all that is why FIFA classified them as the best.(FIFA does not lie, they have fair minded analysts not like you.) dennis like it or not the world knows Cameroon is the best and FIFA is the one that decides not you.

  • Comment number 95.

    There we go again fowl dennis fowl. wishful thinkers like you have voted for Drogba to be the African best player of 2009 eventhough he didn't win anything compared to Eto'o. Eto'o won everything with Barcelona in 2009. Infact winning the la liga in spain with Barcelona and scoring 31 goals, winning the UEFA championship scoring one of the 2 goals in the finals for Barcelona is priceless. I strongly believe in substance. All these your Nigerian players you have named Amokachi, Okocha, Kanu, Olise for your information Cameroon beat this team in the finals of the cup on nations held in Nigeria infront of the Nigerian president. How can you say they were the best when they were beaten by Cameroon in their own Country. Again what did they achieve to be the best at that time? To be declared the best, people need to see what you have achieved. What did Drogba achieve in 2009 more than Eto'o. Can somebody tell me? Mr. dennis in Nigerian broken English they say this "when man pass you, you carry he bag." Eto'o has proven more than enough that he has more substance than any other African player. He was the best scorer in the last African cup of nations,he has scored more goals  than any African player in the African cup of nations tournament breaking the great Laurent Pokou's record, he is the second player in UEFA championship history to have scored in two finals after the great Ronaldo. What more do you want dennis say it and he will prove it to you in Angola and in South Africa 2010. Trop c'est trop mon frere.My heart goes to the Togolese players who were injured or died.

  • Comment number 96.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 97.


    The Champion league match between Barcelona and Chelsea, where was Eto? Did you not see that Drogba was the best player in that match and that the Barcelona defenders found it difficult to play Drogba, while at the other end, Eto was on holiday without any input in the match. It took the referee bias officating against Chlesea for Barcelona to qualify. Eto is a good player and the players around him makes him better. Drogba on other hand is a one man riot squad. He can dismantle any defense at any time.

    When Cameroun won the nations cup on penalties in Nigeria, was Ikpeba's kick not a goal? Why did the ref decide that it was not a goal, allowing Cameroun to win the tounament. When in 1988 finals, Henry Nwosu scored Cameroun with an acrobatic kick, why did the ref disallow the goal, if it was not to please the CAF President.

    Cameroun reached the quarterfinals because Nigeria was not part of the world cup then. On both occasions Nigeria and Cameround went to the world cup in 1994 and 1998, Nigeria did better than Cameroun. So what prove do you need to tell you that the Nigerian players of Okocha, Amokachi, Yekini, Finidi, Olise were better than the Camerounian players. At the world stage, Nigeria always did better than Cameroun. Nigeria was first to win Olympics in style, beating Brazil (with Ronaldo, Dida, Rivaldo, Roberto Carlos, Bebeto) and Argentina (with all there world cup team stars). At the time Amokachi, Finidi, Olise, Ikpeba and co were playing, they were by far better than the Camerounian players. That was why in the 90's the Yekini's, Kanu's, Ikpeba's and Okocha's dominated CAF and BBC African Awards.

    Now, it is the turn of the Ivory Coast. They parade the best African players, give respect when it is due. Cameroun cant be best always. That FIFA thinks they are number 1 in Africa is based on the matches they played and history. It is not on current form. Algeria beat Egypt to qualify for the world cup, but on FIFA ranking, Egypt is ahead of Algeria.

    I understand that as a Camerounian, you are filled with nationalistic zeal for your country. But in matters of football, we have to be objective. The Ivory Coast is the best team in Africa as of today, but winning the tournament will be decided on the current fitness, cohesion and determination of the players. Cameroun is at its lowest point of football, just like Nigeria. The difference is that it is difficult to beat Nigeria while Nigeria does not score alot of goals, while any team can beat Cameroun. The last world cup/Nations cup qualifier proved it. Nigeria played went through the first round winning all 6 matches home and away, beating South Africa home and away. Nigeria went through the second round winning 4 and drawing 2. While Cameroun lost in the first round and lost 2 matches in the second round. Cameroun even lost to Togo on a neutral ground, in Ghana.

    I am only asking you to be objective and stop getting pissed when told that Ivory Caost has better players than Cameroun at the moment, and Nigeria was better than Cameroun in the 90's. It is a generational thing. While the Ivory caost is fading,just like Senegal did fade, the rising stars will be Ghana because they have a young team. But Nigeria will always be there to compete as one of the best African teams because they have a good set of young players. I dont know about Cameroun's preparation for the next generation after the Eto's. Well, Alex Song may lead the next set of Camerounian players.

    But, please accept the form of the Ivory Coast team, even if they may not win the cup, just like Cameroun may not win the cup. All this noise about cameroun setting records, what would the Egyptians say, what would the Ghanaians and Nigerians say. Egypt has won the Nations cup 6 times. Nigeria is the first African team to win the Olympics and only African team to have gone past the first round twice. Nigeria has won the under 17 world cup 3 times, Ghana is the only African team to have won the under 20 world cup. The only record by Cameroun is to be the first team to get to the quarter finals. Egypt is the first African team to play at the world cup, Zaire (Congo) is the first sub-saharan African team to make it to the world cup in 1974. Stop this your camerou this and Cameroun that and start being objective.

    If we go by history, then we better hand the cup to Egypt without even competing for the cup. Let us take the analyst of football journalist because that is what they see and let the players talk the talking and walk the walking on the pitch.

  • Comment number 98.

    Mr. dennis I am sorry you are still not making any sense. I believe in substance and not in I think that Ivory Coast is the best team in Africa. If that was the case, any team that has players playing in Europe can claim that they are the best. My question is what have they done to be called the best team in Africa at the moment. What have they achieved to deserve that title. Fifa doesn't just classify teams without a reason, It is based on substance and they have determined Cameroon is the best presently and not the Ivory Coast. Though you prefer Ivory Coast to Cameroon, Great football analysts working for Fifa have determined that Cameroon is currently the best team in Africa. your personal opinion doesn't matter. I have just travelled to a couple of countries (Jamaica, the USA and Canada ) and most people in these countries consider Cameroon as the best. As for the world cup you cann't go to any part of the world and talk about the world cup and Africa without the name Cameroon. Nobody even remembers if Nigeria even went to the world cup and by the way you cann't compare going to the quarter finals of a world cup with going to the second round and for your information, most countries don't take soccer in the olympics seriously neither do they take junior soccer competions like under 17 and 20s seriously. The main thing is the senior world cup.

    I personally think that you should be thanking Mr. Ayatou for letting Nigeria go to the world cup by finally removing Nigeria from thesame group as Cameroon. If you go and do some research you will reallize that Nigeria only went to the world cup for the first time because they were finally removed from the same qualifying group with Cameroon by Mr. Ayatou. This was because he thought back then that Nigeria had the second best team in Africa behind Cameroon and the only reason they were not qualifying for the world cup was because Cameroon was always beating them and only one team could qualify for each group and there were only 3 teams representing Africa back then. It is because of the Cameroon's performance that the number was increased to 5 (Abi I lie?)

    The analysts of these your BBC journalists has been criticized by more people in this forum because they know it's not correct. The journalists chose Ivory Coast because Drogba is the best striker in England and they have no clue about other African players playing out of England. While Fifa has all the information about the performance of all the players and teams in the world of soccer. So whose classification makes more sense?

  • Comment number 99.

    By the way dennis, I forgot to mention, Only the weak complain about referees. Since you claim it is because of Mr. Ayatou the referees let Cameroon win, Mr. Ayatou didn't chose the Referee for the Chelsea-Barcelona game for Barcelona to win because of Eto'o. If your Drogba was strong enough in that competion as you claim he should have scored goals to prove that and let the referee disallow, unfortunately there was nothing like that. He didn' score any goals to prove your point. ( Once again where is the substance in your judgement?)

  • Comment number 100.

    # 98 and 97. We can argue all we want. Let's see what happens on the pitch. Big respect to all the teams. After all the talk maybe Zambia will win. Inshallah.


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