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A Futuristic Peek at CAN 2012

Wed, 14 Dec 2011 Source: Abdur Rahman Shaban Alfa

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… Black Stars perspective

The crème de la crème of African football would gather for the biennial soccer fiesta in a little over a months’ time. The Central African nations of Gabon and Equatorial Guinea are all but ready for the much awaited tournament.

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) the oversight body in charge of the tournament has announced that this would be the last time that the competition is held in an odd even year. The next edition is for 2013 in Libya to allow for subsequent tournaments to be staged in odd years as 2015, 2017, 2019 etc. But even as the competition approaches, there are a few interesting developments relative to the teams that will be assembling and then usual permutations about who and who are more likely to win the tournament is ever present and rife.

The main reason being that teams known to be giants when it comes to the game at senior national team level would not be showing up. Amongst them are: Egypt who are the defending champions, Nigeria and Cameroon; South Africa to some extent. The above factor however does not seem to have taken away any excitement from the upcoming tourney, instead it has given rise to the debate that ‘an outsider’ may just pick the top prize in African football.

Of the sixteen countries that have made it to the competition, West African neighbours, Ghana and Ivory Coast; have been bandied about in some quarters as the more likely to win the trophy.

Ivoirians would love as much to win the trophy as would Ghanaians. Their players have been speaking a lot on their chances to annex the trophy especially so in an era where they have produced by far their finest group of players in a long while. The Black Stars on the other hand are being tipped on the basis that the team has come the closest to winning the tournament in the last two editions. Egypt 2006 was an episode to forget as the team crushed out of the first round after losing the last group game to Zimbabwe. Ratomir Djokovic however made up for that bad patch when he led a stronger Stars team to do Africa proud at the World Cup in Germany.

Then came 2008, when we hosted the event under the local mantra of ‘Host and Win’ with French man Claude Le Roy as manager. Eto’o and his Cameroonian charges had other ideas in the semi final as they beat us. We picked the bronze medal after beating Ivory Coast in Kumasi. ‘Host and Third’ it turned out to be. Next was Angola 2010, a strong Ghana team showed up in a group where they had to play against two opponents following the Kabinda shooting and subsequent withdrawal of Togo from the tournament.

Well beaten by Ivory Coast, Gyan led the team to dispatch Burkina Faso in the last group game to qualify, subsequently beating Nigeria in the quarter final and braving the odds to kick the host nation, Angola; out of the competition. Come the final, Hassan Sheyhata’s Egypt proved tactically better than Milovan Rajevac’ charges, not playing so well but delivering the goods when it mattered most. Mohammed Gedo’s late strike meant that Ghana had to wait longer to be crowned champions. Third at home, second in Angola, the ideal projection shall be a first position. But how realistic is that, and why should Ghana be caution at the level of players and management at promising the trophy?

In part two of this piece, we explore angles to a cautious pursuance of the dream of coming tops by the end of Gaban/Equatorial Guinea 2012, till then, watch this space!!

© Abdur Rahman Shaban Alfa

newcguide@gmail.com, alfarsenal@yahoo.com

Source: Abdur Rahman Shaban Alfa