Africa Cup Of Nations Debrief - AFR Voice Ep.12

What a couple of weeks it’s been in the world of football. We start with an interview with ESPN FC’s Mark Lomas to talk all things African Cup of Nations, before discussing the possible implications of the Europol match fixing scandal, what it means for football, and if there is a solution to the problem.

Elsewhere (in case you hadn’t noticed) David Beckham has signed for PSG, the Premier League has seen one of its finest own goals, and England have pretty much made themselves favourites to win next year’s World Cup. So strap in and let the latest edition of AFR Voice take you through all of the issues that you need to know (as well as plenty of stuff that you don’t), including bridal showers at the Bernabéu, a delightful selection of carpets in Turkey, and a new kind of card being brandished by referees in the Greek lower leagues.

We’ll also be taking time to get under the skin of this weekend’s Premier League action and decide if Manchester United already have the title sown up, before heading overseas to discuss toiler humour in Germany, running baths in France, and just how the USMNT are going to fight their way out of the most sinister-sounding of World Cup qualifying rounds – the Hex.

As always, you can get in touch with the team by tweeting @AFRvoice or emailing afrvoice@gmail.com.

Do the Kidiaba!

Few who saw last year’s African Cup of Nations final will forget it any time soon. The last few penalties in the shootout were played out to the chorus of the Zambian squad on the sidelines and in the huddle, with the greater narrative overwhelming. There is something about this tournament that sets it apart from any other. As the backstories come into play, the football takes on an entirely new sense of importance, and emotions begin to run wild.

As for what DR Congo’s Muteba Kidiaba was thinking when he celebrated his country’s equaliser against Ghana, we can only imagine.

GIF by Matheus, the man behind 8-bit Football. Words by Max Grieve.

Zambia win the African Cup of Nations, honor those lost 19 years ago in plane crash
After taking off from Libreville in Gabon 19 years ago, a military plane carrying most of the squad crashed into the Atlantic Ocean. All 30 people on board, including 18 players, were killed. Before the crash, it was a golden era for Zambia’s football team. Their squad was expected to qualify for the 1994 World Cup, but of course things took a turn for the tragic.
19 years later, there are celebrations all over Zambia. And for good reason. Zambia, for the first time ever, are the Champions of Africa. Where did they win it? Libreville. Accepting the role of underdogs going into the final against the Ivory Coast, a team filled with world class talent like Didier Drogba, Yaya Toure, and Gervinho, the Zambians, led by coach Herve Renard, played fearlessly. There were no goals in regulation, so penalty kicks decided who would would be crowned the best team in Africa. Against all odds, Zambia won 8-7 on penalties in what was one of the most dramatic shoot-outs in history. Throughout the shoot-out, the Zambian players and staff were singing, creating a surreal environment that transcended the events partaking on the pitch. The trophy doesn’t make up for what was lost 19 years ago, but tonight a feeling of vindication will fill the air throughout Zambia.

Zambia win the African Cup of Nations, honor those lost 19 years ago in plane crash

After taking off from Libreville in Gabon 19 years ago, a military plane carrying most of the squad crashed into the Atlantic Ocean. All 30 people on board, including 18 players, were killed. Before the crash, it was a golden era for Zambia’s football team. Their squad was expected to qualify for the 1994 World Cup, but of course things took a turn for the tragic.

19 years later, there are celebrations all over Zambia. And for good reason. Zambia, for the first time ever, are the Champions of Africa. Where did they win it? Libreville. Accepting the role of underdogs going into the final against the Ivory Coast, a team filled with world class talent like Didier Drogba, Yaya Toure, and Gervinho, the Zambians, led by coach Herve Renard, played fearlessly. There were no goals in regulation, so penalty kicks decided who would would be crowned the best team in Africa. Against all odds, Zambia won 8-7 on penalties in what was one of the most dramatic shoot-outs in history. Throughout the shoot-out, the Zambian players and staff were singing, creating a surreal environment that transcended the events partaking on the pitch. The trophy doesn’t make up for what was lost 19 years ago, but tonight a feeling of vindication will fill the air throughout Zambia.

The Africa Artist Series. Created for the African Cup of Nations.

In an effort to truly harness the identity of different African nations participating in the upcoming 2012 African Cup of Nations (co-hosted by Gabon and Equatorial Guinea), PUMA called upon local African artists to symbolically represent their nation’s essence by designing respective football shirts for the tournament.

All of the artists took inspiration from their own country, culture and traditions and created something truly unique. Something much more than just a graphic. The result is that for the first time in football, the Cameroon, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Algeria, Namibia, Senegal, Togo, Gabon, Burkina Faso and South Africa kits have been designed by a local artist. The new kits fuse the worlds of sport, art and culture by identifying their shared values and communities.

To take a closer look at the creative process, which is the most enticing part in my opinion, below is Gabonese artist Owanto’s interpretation of the Gabonese people and their energy.

Local artists creating an audacious coat of arms, can this become the status quo?

A Tree is Best Measured When It’s Down: On FIFA’s suspension of Nigeria

By Eric Beard

The official FIFA statement read: ”The FIFA emergency committee decided today, October 4 2010, to suspend the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) with immediate effect on account of government interference.”

As if crashing out of the World Cup wasn’t hard enough, supporters of the Super Eagles will be devastated to hear that FIFA has banned them from all competitions indefinitely. And yes, that includes the African Cup of Nations qualifying. Controversy is, of course, nothing new for Nigerian Football, who are the perennial underachievers of Africa, despite having a squad that should be the envy of the continent. Though arguments can and will certainly be made that FIFA is not punishing the governing body of Nigerian Football, but rather the players and fans, FIFA was right to take a stand. Let me explain.

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Stylish Sunday: African Skills & Modish Music

So I know I’ve recently been posting quite a bit about South Africa/the World Cup/African football lately, but it’s only because we’re working on a very special page dedicated to AFR’s World Cup Coverage. The page should be up by the end of the month. Anyway, I thought we could roll back time a little bit and enjoy the best skills on show during the African Cup of Nations. 

On a different (but still stylin’) note, here’s a song from Chiddy Bang. He’s opening for Kid Cudi at my university this week, so I thought I’d share a pretty talented up-and-coming artist.

 Under The Sheets (Chiddy Bang Remix) - Ellie Goulding

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England roster set for friendly with African Cup of Nations Champions Egypt next Wednesday at Wembley

England are hosting African Cup Nations Champions Egypt next Wednesday at Wembley. This is the last friendly for England until Fabio Capello announces the provisional World Cup squad, which is announced on May the 12th.

Ryan Shawcross has been selected for the first time and is set to make his debut, his call up was announced hours after he accidentally broken Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey’s leg.

Leighton Baines was called up to replace Wayne Bridge, but Capello stated he can still play in the World Cup in South Africa if Bridge changes his mind. There is also no room for Ben Foster, Paul Robinson, Joe Cole, Jermaine Jenas, Michael Owen, Bobby Zamora and Agbonlahor in the england squad. But with under 3 months of Premier League football, they can all work their way into the squad. The door is open for everyone. Jermaine Jenas, Aaron Lennon, Glen Johnson and Ashley Cole are all missing the encounter through injury.


England captain, Rio Ferdinand, is injured for this match and it will be exciting to see who will wear the captain’s armband; Rooney, Gerrard and Lampard are all favourites. The full roster for the friendly is after the jump.

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Best of… January’s last weekend

1. Manchester United made a huge statement of intent to hold on to their Premier League title with a 3-1 thrashing of Arsenal. It was a terrible afternoon for Arsene Wenger’s squad as Wayne Rooney, Nani, and Park Ji-Sung rose a class above the North Londoners on the day. It should be noted that Wayne Rooney has now scored 100 goals in the Premier League. Facing Chelsea and then Liverpool in the next two matches, Arsenal will need to compose themselves from this defeat to have any hopes of fighting for the title.

2. Egypt (yes, the Egypt that will not be in the World Cup) has won its third consecutive Africa Cup of Nations as substitute Mohamed Nagy, or “Gedo” propelled the Pharoahs to 1-0 victory over the Ghanaians thanks to his 85th minute goal. This is Egypt’s seventh Africa Cup of Nations, but it is tough to see such a talented and flamboyant side miss out on the big show in Africa this June.

3. A Ronaldo-less Real Madrid outclassed the in-form Deportivo La Coruna as the Galacticos travelled to El Riazor to claim a 3-1 victory. Karim Benzema scored twice, and Esteban Granero also had one. But the true spotlight fell on Guti, who masterfully set up Benzema’s first goal with what is being called, “The Golden Backheel”. How good was it? Well Deportivo coach Miguel Angel Lotina said, ”After what I saw, Guti should take part in the World Cup.” Barcelona also won 1-0 as they travelled to Sporting Gijon, and sit five points above Madrid atop the La Liga table.

4.  Speaking of being top-of-the-league, Chelsea continue to push forward atop the Premier League table as they clinched three points in a hard-fought 2-1 away win against Burnley at Turf Moor. Nicolas Anelka put Chelsea ahead before Steven Fletcher scored a world-class equalizer in one of Burnley’s only true chances. But it was John Terry who scored the winner for the Blues with a wonderful header with less than 10 minutes left in regulation.

5. Roma defeated Siena 2-1 to move into second place with AC Milan on 41 points in Serie A thanks to a Stefano Okaka’s cheeky backheel with two minutes left to play. AC Milan failed to capitalize once again as they could only manage to draw Livorno 1-1 at the San Siro despite having nearly 70% of possession throughout the match.

Highlights from today’s matches are/will be posted after the jump.

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The epitome of immorality: Togo is fined $50,000 and banned from the next two African Cup of Nations

Talk about kicking someone while they’re already down.

Togo have been charged $50,000 and banned from participating in the next two African Cup of Nations by the Confederation of African football (CAF) less than a month after their withdrawal from this year’s tournament due to an Angolan terrorist attack on the team bus.

Issa Hayatou, the president of Caf, said that the reason for the ban was because Togo’s decision to pull out was based on “governmental interference”. Now hold on… you charge the Togolese football federation, which had two members of their delegation killed on January 8th, 50,000 dollars because of a decision by the Togolese government? That seems completely illogical, doesn’t it?

The Togo government is furious over the decision, threatening legal action.

"This is a surprise decision and it means that people (Caf) have no consideration for the lives of other human beings," Togo Interior Minister Pascal Bodjona told BBC Sport.

Togo midfielder Thomas Dossevi, who was on the bus when it came under fire minutes after it crossed the Angolan border from Pointe Noire, Congo, said Togo should appeal against the ban.

"Togo should appeal the suspension. When we said we were going home for a three-day mourning they said they were with us in this ordeal and now they punish us."

Meanwhile, the families of the assistant coach and the press officer were taking legal action against the Caf and the Angolan state, their lawyer said.

"We are taking legal action because our compatriots were killed because of the mistakes of the Confederation of African Football (and) its president Mr Issa Hayatou," lawyer Alexis Aquereburu said.

"(The legal claim is) also against the Angolan state for putting in danger the life of our compatriots by organising this African Nations Cup in a war zone."

FIFA have declined to comment on the Confederation of African football, but for me this is a decision that ranks among the lowest of the low. How do you feel about this? Do the players deserve to be punished for what they had to go through?

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