Africa cup of nations

Ali Jaffer 9 February 2008

At Cambridge, in our so-called “bubble”, when it comes to following professional sport, we have a perpetual problem – a distinct lack of time. The reason the vast majority of us true football fans still find the time to follow our Premiership and Football League Clubs is because of the deep-rooted and ingrained love and passion we have for our clubs. The shirt, the emblem, the ground – they all mean so much and so our avid obsessions will not and cannot, ever, be extinguished – regardless of how much work we have to do.

The problem with the Africa Cup of Nations is that most of us (that is to say everybody without some sort of significant connection with one of the competing nations) are just “interested” in the football, and unfortunately just being interested does not equate to being willing or able to donate significant time periods to its following. We just want our club’s clientele to return injury-free and preferably as soon as possible.

Out of interest, The Ivory Coast are on fire. Chelsea fans will have noted Drogba has had no trouble replicating his excellent club form on the international, and arguably, easier stage. A 5-0 destruction of Guinea on Monday (with Drogba on the scoresheet) means they will take on Egypt, conquerors of Angola, in one of the semi-finals. For fear of recriminations from other members of TCS staff and readership following my bold prediction that Rafael Nadal would win the Australian Open (see “2008: Britless Tennis”, TCS Week 2), I’m going to go out on a limb and say The Ivory Coast will go on to the final and eventually beat Ghana in their own backyard.

Ghana deserve some attention. They’ll face Cameroon for a place in the final.

UK-based Michael Essien and Sulley Muntari, along with Nottingham Forest’s Junior Agogo have all been on the scoresheet in the group stages and thereby instrumental in the hosts’ relatively easy passage to the knockout stages. Pick of the victories, however has to have been the 2-1 success against West African neighbours Nigeria in the quarter finals on Sunday, which provoked scenes of unparalleled joy in the streets of Accra.

Dark horses Egypt, five time winners, and current holders are worth a brief mention – A win against a powerful Angola side will certainly give the Ivory Coast some food for thought before today’s semi-final. Regardless of whether or not the hosts do reach the final, I assure you the highlights will be worth a watch. The game will be broadcast live on the BBC Sport website on Sunday evening.

Ali Jaffer