Burundi and Madagascar made their Cup of Nations debuts with contrasting fortunes, while Uganda made a mockery of the rankings to turn over DRC in front of a handful of fans.
Football? What football?
On Day 1, there was the all-day lead up to Egypt’s game against Zimbabwe. There were a good 70,000 fans in the Cairo International Stadium when it kicked off at 10pm. Less than 24 hours later, there wasn’t even a tenth of that number for the second Group A match featuring Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda. DRC went behind early in the game when Patrick Kaddu planted his header past Matampi Ley in the DRC goal. Kaddu could have had a second a few minutes later but he nodded the effort wide. Uganda added a second just after to restart and held on to register their first win at the Africa Cup of Nations since their surge to the final in 1978.
There was a cool moment in the 57th minute of the match between Uganda and DRC. The Uganda goalkeeper Denis Onyango made absolutely no attempt to keep possession. The ball came into his area and he simply lashed it upfield and out into touch. It was so old school. None of the new fangled sweeper keeper stuff so beloved of Pep Guardiola or Jurgen Klopp. Row Z. Get in there.
And so the debut of Burundi ended in defeat to Nigeria. They were undone a dozen minutes or so from time in Alexandria. Odion Ighalo dashed their hopes of a point with a slick finish. It followed an even slicker defence splitting backheel from Ola Aina. Nevertheless, Burundi can take heart from a gallant display. They didn’t look like ingenus. But a loss is a loss and, as they say in the Eurovision Song Contest, nul points.
In the heat of the night
Spare a thought for Nigeria striker Samuel Kalu. He didn’t feature in the game against Burundi as he was recovering from severe heat dehydration. He collapsed during training and was taken to hospital. The incident came after the players’ union, Fifpro, called for the tournament organisers Caf to increase their planned number of heat breaks from two to four per match. Come on lads, the matches aren’t in the afternoon. What more do you want?
It’s great getting older and being able to reminisce about levels of organisational atrocities at various Africa Cup of Nations. The review is still haunted by the wasteland Caf created in Angola. Hey, ho. But at least back then the volunteers came round the media stands offering plastic bottles of water. They haven’t been doing that in Cairo so far. Instead, they emerge to say: “No pictures, please.” Maybe they had a point. Who would be interested in a shot of an empty stadium?
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Publish date : 2019-06-24 11:38:51