Nations Cup hit by chaos — hotel not built, plane too small, fighting erupts
Bafana Bafana management are dissatisfied with the practice facilities that have been laid on for the team in Tamale in northern Ghana and will be lodging an official complaint with the African Cup of Nations organisers.
The lack of adequate facilities reflects the chronic disorganisation within the tournament as a whole. Yesterday here in Accra a fist-fight broke out at the press accreditation centre and several incoming teams have complained about overbooked accommodation or problems with transport in Ghana itself.
The four teams based in Kumasi — Egypt, Cameroon, Sudan and Zambia — found out on arrival this week that the hotel, meant to host all four of them, had not yet been built.
Later the Nigerians discovered their internal flight from Accra to Sekondi couldn’t take off because the Nigerian squad was too large for the aircraft provided.
On a brighter note , SA’s 2008 African Cup of Nation’s campaign can’t be worse than it was in 2004 and 2006.
In those two tournaments Bafana played a total of six matches and lost four of them, winning one and drawing one. In neither tournament — Tunisia hosted the competition four years ago, and Egypt were hosts in 2006 — did Bafana manage to progress to the knockout phase of the competition.
It has to be better this time as coach Carlos Alberto Parreira strives to find the right blend of experience and youth to drive Bafana into the future.
With the bulk of the starting lineup selecting itself for SA’s first match, against Angola on Wednesday night at the Tamale Sports Stadium, there are precious few positions up for grabs and these depend largely on who is injured.
After suffering a midweek injury scare against Botswana, captain Aaron Mokoena looks set to start against Angola, as do Steven Pienaar and Tsepo Masilela. Rowen Fernandez, the first-choice goalkeeper, is out of the Angola clash .
Parreira has shown his hand in the two friendly matches against Mozambique and Botswana this week.
Young Tsepo Masilela and Bryce Moon are a breath of fresh air playing as the fullbacks. Aged 22 and 21 respectively, they are bringing back the heady days of David Nyathi and the late Sizwe Motaung.
Together with the centre back pairing of Nasief Morris and Benson Mhlongo, they will face an acid test from Manucho, Figueiredo and Flavio in the Angola clash.
Parreira has unveiled several interesting formations in the Mozambique and Botswana friendlies, playing a 4-4-2 pattern against Mozambique last weekend but appearing to flirt with a 3-5-2 system for SA’s 2-1 win over Botswana on Wednesday night.
Mhlongo spent a long time on the right whenever Moon surged forward against Botswana and Aaron Mokoena, playing in the midfield holding position, dropped deep to cover the hole in defence.
With Moon enjoying a free role on the right, Steven Pienaar had the opportunity to switch flanks and to help the struggling Siphiwe Tshabalala on the left wing. Another promising omen is that the side are creating many scoring opportunities.
In the two matches Zuma and Surprise Moriri could have scored 10 goals between them with a little more concentration.
Nonetheless, the duo are looking sharp upfront, especially with the supply they are getting.
Angola are making only their fourth appearance at the Nations Cup and have stuck with a tried and tested unit. The 23-man squad released by their coach Luis Goncalves de Oliveira includes 16 players from their 2006 World Cup squad.
During their preparation for continental competition they have beaten Ivory Coast 2-1, club side Willem II of Netherlands 1-0, Portimonense of Portugal 2-1, drawn 3-3 with Egypt and lost to Guinea 3-1 and the Canary Islands 2-1.
On Wednesday they were beaten 2- 1 by Morocco in their final friendly before flying to Ghana.
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