Home » General » Afcon Gets to the Business End

THE 30th African Cup of Nations has reached the business end — the time that the legendary former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson famously called the squeaky bum time.

On the park hosts Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire and the Democratic Republic of Congo proudly stand tall after 12 other pretenders left the main stage of African football.

Away from it the head of the Tunisian Football Federation Wadie Jary has resigned from the Confederation of African Football in protest over the manner the Carthage Eagles exited the scene on Saturday night.

Equatorial Guinea stunned Tunisia 2-1 after extra time in a quarter -final which saw Mauritian referee Seechurn Rajindraparsad hogging the limelight for questionable calls, including a rather soft stoppage time penalty that gave the hosts a kiss of life.

Several of the Tunisian players now face disciplinary action after they attacked Rajindraparsad soon after their extra time defeat.

The Tunisians accuse Rajindraparsad of diabolic officiating in a match which saw former Real Madrid winger Javier Balboa strike twice — from the penalty spot and a free kick — as Equatorial Guinea came from behind to snatch a sensational win.

Ahmed Kaichi had given Tunisia the lead on 70 minutes.

As the drama unfolds in the boardroom Ghana coach Avram Grant reckons his Black Stars are shining brighter with each outing.

The Israeli watched with contentment as his side tore Guinea 3-0 in a loop sided quarter-final at Estadio de Malabo Saturday.

A double from on loan Chelsea forward Christian Atsu and a Kwesi Appiah effort suffocated a Sylie Nationale outfit that had been promised a US$50 000 winning bonus.

“Every game is better than the last,” said Grant.

“We played well against Guinea and scored some beautiful goals.”

Up next for Ghana are the DRC.

Southern Africa’s remaining representatives are high on confidence after erasing a two-goal deficit to beat neighbours Congo 4-2 in the quarter-finals.

Cote d’Ivoire, meanwhile, have for years struggled to find a man they can trust with guarding goal.

The retirement of veteran Jean-Jacqueas Tize saw The Elephants audition a number of glovemen before settling for Boubacar Barry, the Turkish-based goalkeeper.

Barry made howlers with shocking consistency, rarely produced match-winning performances but still kept his place between the posts because there was no one better coming through the ranks.

However, in Guelassiognon Sylvain Gbohouho the Ivoirians appear to have a safe pair hands and a cool head.

The 26-year old, one of three locally-based players in Herve Renard’s squad, was immense in his side’s 3-1 victory over Algeria on Sunday.

Manchester City striker Wilfred Bony helped himself to a double before Gervinho added a late third as Cote d’Ivoire walked their coach’s walk.

Frenchman Renard, who led Zambia to Afcon glory in 2012, boldly declared his side would not lose to the Desert Foxes in the build up to the tensely fought out last eight match.

Gbohouo made a series of crucial saves as Cote d’Ivoire took a step closer to a to a second Afcon title after initial success in 1992.

Renard’s men will return to Malabo on Thursday to battle the hosts for a ticket into the final.

Equatorial Guinea coach Esteban Becker, who became an overnight hero after the “miracle” over Tunisia, is busy trying to get his lads refocused after a weekend of being hailed as football gods.

“Beating Tunisia was almost a miracle and it has delighted the nation but we have a bigger game to play and we have to be focused,” Becker said.

Source : The Herald