••• BOLAS & BANDEIRAS •••

CAN ’10: ••FINAL•• Ghana-Egypt!

Posted in Uncategorized by Steven Villereal on January 31, 2010

‘Tis finally the day—we pick a winner of the 2010 African Cup of Nations and bid farewell to this tournament, knowing not what sporting/editorials challenges await us in the future!

Ghana have ground out three 1-0 wins in a row, the last two via goals by Asamoah Gyan working as a lone striker. Egypt meanwhile have scored 14 goals in the tournament so far to Ghana’s 4.

Ghana: Kingson; Addy, Inkoom, Sarpei, Vorsah; Agyemang-Badu, Ayew, Opoku, Asamoah, Annan; Gyan.
Egypt: Al Hadari; Al Muhammadi, Said, Gomaa, Moawad; Fathi, Abd Rabou, Hassan, Ghali; Zidan, Motaeb.

Special edition ❤ = football hair from Zidan

One minor factor worth considering is that Egypt hasn’t yet played in Luanda on the spongy/tenuous/patchy pitch of the Estadio 11 de Novembro. Ghana have played their last THREE matches (all 1-0) in Luanda and perhaps Egypt’s more ambitious and flowing passing game won’t translate as well to the unpredictable grass “here”.

We’re underway but very little happening!!! It’s apparently 37ºC there today.

23 min: Alright! A shot on goal as 21 y/o Kwadwo Asamoah takes a left-footed pop from 30+ yards…it’s swerving downwards but Al Hadari smothers it out.

25 min: Ghana look, hate to fall back on this word, ORGANIZED! Not exactly ambitious, but compact and intent. The passing quality on both sides has been lacking…lots of punted balls to nowhere.

27 min: My announcer informing me here that FIFA bureaucratic godhead Sepp Blatter cancelled a pre-match on-field appearance due to the heat, issues of sweating like an extremely well-fed pig on camera.

40 mins:

Can the YOUTHFUL Black Star side come of age?

0-0 at HALFTIME!!! The match has yet to take off here, with both sides feeling each other out. Egypt have had 57% of the possession but no shots on goal (Ghana had two potshots, but no serious chances).

GRASS: The state of the pitch is sadly defining this game I think. With Egypt having played all of their matches so far in Benguela (the most stable & carpet-like pitch in Angola so far), but the Estadio 11 de Novembro’s grass is harder to run on/stop on/is riddled with bobble-inducing divots which make it difficult to play fast & accurate passes on the ground. Halftime prognostications have to note that Ghana have not only played their last 3 matches (where they scored one goal earlyish, then cagily defended the match out)  in this stadium, but that they’ve been staying in the capital for nearly 2 weeks, whereas Egypt are newly arrived.

70 min: Current CAN ’10 top scorer Mohamed Gedo is on in place of Moteab.

85 min 1-0 EGYPT!: Well well, it’s substitute Gedo popping up in the penalty after a give & go with Zidan, and he sidefoots around the keeper! Gedo’s 5th goal of the tournament and he will finish as CAN top scorer—4 of his goals were coming off the bench, as just now.

90+ min: Time is a’wasting…but that is too passive a construction. Rather it’s being actively wasted by the Egyptians.

FULLTIME! EGYPT 1-0 GHANA! Hassan Shehata has lead the Pharoahs to an unprecedented 3rd straight African Cup.

Dancing on the crossbar with Al Hadari & Zidan

Egyptian keeper & head cheerleader Al Hadari really does have an inner gay male aerobics instructor, and he is channelling it as the Pharoahs celebrate this title. It’s kind of amazing that Egypt were so underestimated in this tournament, coming in as defending champs. Like Ghana they had some major names missing through injury (MF Aboutrika and striker Amir Zaki), and any gaps were most spectacularly plugged by Mohamed “Gedo” Nagy who finishes with 5 goals.

PARABENS TO EGYPT…and we also say thank you!/goodbye! to Angola as we conclude CAN 2010! There is a funky and futuristic (blue lights + body glittered dancers flying through the air on wires) Closing Ceremony on the pitch right now!

Pitch conditions caused no conditions for dancers

Luckily the massive divots of dislodged grass are not posing any problems for the dancers here, many of whom have recently returned to earth after floating through the air suspended on wires.

HOLD ON some chaps with jet blaster packs are also flying into the stadium and set to land, bearing gifts!

Trophy-bearing jetpackers of the future...

Closing ceremony coverage continues as we congratulate the Egyptians! It’s a shame they won’t be at the World Cup in June. Perhaps a swap deal can be negotiated where they play instead of South Africa?

The hole in Sepp Blatter's head

The sun has set and Sepp Blatter has deemed it cool enough to waddle out onto the pitch! His head is still a bit sweaty though, and some of the metallic confetti which rained down upon the stadium has affixed to hit pate VISUALLY LITERALIZING a massive hole in his head. Medals are being distributed…and we are signing off!

We bid you fairwell from the Estadio 11 de Novembro!!! And as Nate noted below, just because you’ve come to know us through our CAN ’10 coverage doesn’t mean that we won’t continue to bring you SOCCER-RELATED CULTURAL INSIGHT & COMMENTARY in the coming months. Thanks for reading where applicable!

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CAN ’10: gearing up for the final…

Posted in Uncategorized by 00000000 on January 31, 2010

Egypt coach Hassan Shehata, no less impressively mustachioed as a young buck

Alright Bandeiristas, it’s the Copa Final tomorrow! EGYPT vs GHANA, Estadio 11 de Novembro, 5:00 PM Luanda time!

Egypt are the surprise favorites to come away with the cup, which would be their third in a row, and their seventh overall. Bookies have the Pharaohs at evens to win it, while the Black Stars can be got for 10/3 or so. The Ghanaians could be worth a punt, but considering Egypt’s form in the last few games, their 100% record in the competition so far, and the fact that they’ve scored 14 goals compared to Ghana’s humble 4, I’d say forget it.

Hassan Shehata’s somewhat outlandish 3-5-2 formation (*viz Paul Wilson here) has proved spectacularly successful so far, leaving many African football commentators lamenting the fact the Egypt, as the most convincing looking side in this competition, will be missing out on the World Cup this summer, which really, simply, should be won by an African team.

Egypt’s attack force has been prolific. Young Gedo has proved a hit at the Copa, sitting pretty at the top of the goals table w/ four, 35-year-old winger Hassan has had an evergreen outing in Angola, scoring three and generally looking dangerous and industrious, while Zidan has been been unsurprisingly impressive, scoring a beauty against Algeria. I expect most of the 90 minutes to resemble the crashing of wave after Egyptian wave against a sturdy Ghanaian fortress. Biblical stuff, to be sure! LADUMA!

Asamoah Gyan's game-face

Not that I wouldn’t love to see this young Ghana team win, however. And actually, I wouldn’t be too surprised if they do win tomorrow— but it will take a seriously impressive defensive performance. Without their, ahem, TALISMANIC midfielder Michael Essien, Ghana’s U-20 championship-winning youth forces have had to step up and assert their defensive muscle. They’ve done a convincing job of it so far, keeping clean sheets in 3 of the 4 games they’ve played. If they maintain their solidity and organization, and if Asamoah Gyan and Andre Ayew remain industrious on the break, there’s no reason the Black Stars couldn’t grip the cup in Luanda tomorrow.

Anyways, I or Steve will be here with some sort of live commentary, so check back then.

BUT, post-Copa we’ll continue à bring vous cette hard-hitting Afrocentrique TOLI-TOLI (pardon my Camfranglais). So keeeeep it locked on the RSS or whathaveyou . . .

¡LA*DU*MA!

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CAN ’10: Semifinals! الجزائر-مصر

Posted in Uncategorized by Steven Villereal on January 28, 2010

In less than an hour we’ll know who will face youthful Ghana in the CAN ’10 final! [POST-AFTERNOON COFFEE CORRECTION: the game will begin in less than an hour, we’ll know the other finalist at the END of that game—right? blargh] Obviously it’ll either be the Pharoahs (looking to be the first nation to lift 3 consecutive cups, and also to redeem their name after failing to qualify for this summer’s WC) versus Les Fennecs of Algeria (looking to humilate the hated Egyptians!). Pharoah’s striker Mohamed Zidan puts it all in perspective for us:

“This is a matter of life and death. For us it’s a chance to show the world that we deserve to be at the World Cup. If we win this we can watch the World Cup in peace. We’re the champions and we’re a better team than them. Everybody will see who is the better team.”

Simple as that! Here’s to hoping the enmity embodies itself as an attractive sporting contest today!

November vibes in Sudan—Equally good ones today?

A different take on the Algerian flag

As always, I’m cribbing off Jonathan Wilson who reminds us that “Egypt are on a record run of 17 games without defeat in the Cup of Nations —the last team to beat them, six years ago tomorrow, was Algeria”. Put that friendly and conversational stat in your bong and fire it up! Here are some team sheets of dubious accuracy:

Algeria: 16-Fawzi Chaouchi; 2-Madjid Bougherra, 3-Nadir Belhadj, 4-Anthar Yahia, 5-Rafik Halliche; 6-Yazid Mansouri, 19-Hassan Yebda, 15-Karim Ziani, 20-Mourad Meghni; 13-Karim Matmour, 9-Abdelkader Ghezzal.

Egypt: 1-Essam Al Hadari; 2-Mahmoud Fathallah, 3-Ahmed Al Muhammadi, 6-Hani Said, 20-Wael Gomaa; 7-Ahmed Fathi, 8-Hosni Abd Rabou, 14-Sayed Moawad, 17-Ahmed Hassan; 9-Mohamed Zidan, 10-Emad Motaeb.

The players are out, and it’s time to disrepect one another’s national anthems! There are generous clouds of flare smoke wafting across the Benguela stadium…healthy amount of away fans, as promised, from both nations. My feed commentator says 3,000 Angolan police have been assigned to this game…let the HATE begin! (sorry)

10 min: Egypt looking silky & determined already…Algeria looking just plain determined. No way I am gonna be able to keep y’all updated on this game!

14 min: Vintage Aerobics fashion enthusiast Essam Al Hadari collects a dangerously in-swinging corner, then willfully headbutts an Anthar Yahia’s arm and dutifully rolls around clutching his face. At least wait til you’re up 1-0, Al Hadari!

17 min: Several dubious injuries, fakery/faqir-y already—otherwise, more evenly-tempered than you might think, though certainly the match has pace and intensity.

???: My eretofore commendable myafricanfootball.com stream has crashed on me…the server/satellite/etc was probably pelted with stones by Algeria AND/OR Egyptian hooligans.

HALFTIME! EGYPT 1-0 ALGERIA! OK, I am back in stream business here. No one is actually depending on this blog for a thorough account of the action, but here is a rapid summary anyway: penalty to Egypt, red card to Algeria, Chaouchi made several excellent saves but also apparently headbutted the ref in a post-penalty dispute! Sporadic updates & thoughts coming throughout the 2nd half…

63 min: Cagey stuff, but when Egypt go forward they flowwww like buttah—sorry. They’ve just wasted several  nearly-golden chances featuring good breaks down the left…having trouble finding the open man in the middle amidst all the excitement.

65 min: EGYPT 2-0 ALGERIA!!! Scratch that…Zidan scores. He shucks and jives after receiving the ball at the top of the box, puts the ball onto his left foot and beats Chaouchi to his left. THAT should indeed by that…probably a bit far gone for 10-man Algeria.

70 min: Hate bubbling over here…the Pharoahs are flicking it about, lording it over the Algerians a bit. Ghezzal just kicked Hassan in the back of the leg and it’s CAN ’10 nadir for Nadir Belhadj as he goes in for a (HATEFUL!) two-footed tackle and is given a straight red card for his efforts. Algeria are down to 9 men.

74 min: Egypt are playing keep-ball here…the flare smoke is rolling in again (red flares, not green ones!)

81 min: EGYPT 3-0 ALGERIA! Evisceration time! Substitute Abdelshafi has been on the field for 2 minutes, and he’s already been teed up by Zidan. The Pharoahs are putting on a show…for their fans and also to give the Ghanaians a glimpse of what they’re up against.

88 min: RED CARD #3 for Algeria…oh dear. A great through ball plays in Gedo, he’s 1-on-1 with Chaouchi…possible whistled offside, but the Algerian keeper proceeds by just directing an angry kick at his leg. That’s his second yellow, so he’s off.

90+3 min: EGYPT’s 4th!!! Gedo finishes calmly after a quick passing move, weaving through the limited numbers of Algerians still on the pitch.

Bangin' the drum for Egypt

AND THAT IS THAT!!! Sweet revenge for that World Cup qualifier. Rafik Halliche’s sending off at 30 minutes set the tone of the game, but all in all the Egyptians just seemed to have too much class.

It will be EGYPT-GHANA in the final on Sunday. The Pharoahs team are 2-time defending champs, have scored 14 goals and only conceded 2, and have bags of experience…obviously not the case with the Ghana squad stripped of its stars. CAN ’10 has not been the most entertaining of tournaments so far, but things are getting yet more interesting. GET PUMPED for the final, and see you “all” Sunday!

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CAN ’10: Semifinals! Ghana-Nigeria

Posted in Uncategorized by Steven Villereal on January 28, 2010

Good day! It’s the first of the CAN ’10 semifinals, and a historic West African showdown featuring 4-time CAN champs Ghana vs. 2-time winners Naija. This post is coming LIVE! from my cubicle so, in a bid to salvage some scraps of professionalism, I am going to keep the updates light…but I’m here! Woah!…team sheets are shockingly available already! [NB: “shockingly available” team sheets were PERHAPS UNSURPRISINGLY inaccurate!]

Ghana: Kingson; Inkoom, Vorsah, Addy, Sarpei, A. Ayew, Badu, Annan, K. Asamoah, Opoku, A. Gyan,
Nigeria: Enyeama; Yusuf,  Shittu, Nwaneri, Echiejile, Kaita, Mikel, Ayila, , Odemwingie, Obasi, Martins

Optimistic Super Eagles supporters represent!

The crowd is currently looking patchy in Luanda’s Estadio 11 de Novembro, but it’s rapidly filling up. Fattened FIFA goose Sepp Blatter is looking on from a balcony, and I’m at my laptop in my cube! The ball begins to rolllllll!

~20 min: GHANA GOAL!!! From a corner it’s Asamoah Gyan, wriggling away from his marker and heading in at the near post! Naija were starting to look comfortable on the ball, but now the Black Stars have gone ahead on a set piece. That’s Gyan’s 3rd CAN gol.

25 min: In an age of rapidly changing player hairstyles, Asamoah Gyan has had the same, awesome mini-natural do for at least 5 years now. I remember admiring during his days playing for Udinese. More to the point, he is looking spritely today, and aside from his goal has already forced several half-errors from the Nigerian back four.

30 min: Opoku has gone to ground several times this game, but he appears to be genuinely hurt…he’s off and more experienced head Haminu Draman is on in his place.

32 min: Ghana obviously ahead here, but Odemwingie & Martins are starting to swap smart passes and get in dangerous positions for Nigeria.

44 min: Mikel floats in a free kick from ~25 yards out, and Richard Kingson comes out and punches the ball clear…and a good thing he dead and several massive Nigerian heads were winding up menacingly to plump for that ball.

HALFTIME! and it’s GHANA 1-0 NIGERIA—welp, the Super Eagles have had 60% of the possession and were starting to organize on the edge of the Ghana box towards the end of the half. It’s clear that the Black Stars are going to follow the same gameplan that knocked out Angola…they’re a goal up, so they just have to stay concentrated and compact and they’re into the finals.

49 min: The Nigerians have come out energized and are buzzing around the edge of the Ghanian area…Obasi just tried to roundhouse kick a cross in but it deflected off a defender.

54 min: Ibrahim Ayew comes on at left back for Sarpei (who was playing through an injury he picked up in the first half). It seems a smart move as Martins and Obasi were starting to cause problems on that side of the field.

60 min: A smart chip by Mikel sails over the two CBs and it’s Martins racing onto it…but Kingson is off his line and makes a crucial save at close range!

63 min: Obasi & Martins don’t look much like scoring today, despite being consistently fed convertable opportunities. You’d have to think that one of the bench-bound striker pool of Yakubu, Kanu, or Uche are soon to be summoned here?

70 min: Mikel is really starting to spray incisive passes…and again it’s Martins threatening goal as he chases one down…he seems to be one-on-one with goal but is rapidly crowded out by a collaborative pincer motion by Inkoom & Vorsah. Yakubu is now on, replacing Odemwingie (and surprisingly not the less-enterprising Martins).

73 min: Yakubu’s first “chance” as a rifled cross unknowingly ricochets off his thigh and not toooo far wide of the post.

83 min: I’m writing some work emails.

87 min: Kingson is redeeming the reputation of African goalkeeping after the high comedy we’ve witnessed this tournament. He’s come off his line to bravely break up several dangerous balls the Nigerians are putting into the box. Dunno if you’ve taken a look at the girth of Obasi/Martins/Yakubu, but repeatedly bashing into them in mid-air requires some fortitude.

FULLTIME! GHANA 1-0 NIGERIA!!! The Black Stars, despite missing virtually all of theirmost famous names, are through to their first CAN final since they were runners-up in 1992.

Asamoah Gyan 1-0 Nigeria

So, U-20 World Cup-winning Black Starlets like Inkoom (20 y/o), Addy (19, and the nerviest looking of the youthmen), and Andre Ayew (20) have acquitted themselves marvelously,  thickening the Ghanian squad sauce (???) as we simmer towards the GrownUp World Cup in June. I have to say I’m pleased to see Nigeria dumped out of the tournament here…they were pretty rough on the eyes. Cheers to Ghana, and stay tuned for Egypt-Algeria!

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CAN ’10: Gettin’ Pumped for the Semis

Posted in Uncategorized by Steven Villereal on January 27, 2010

Apologies to once & future BOLAS & BANDEIRAS readers for several days of radio silence. I know my gentle colleague Nathaniel has more pressing life obligations, and wish I had such an excuse! Rather, I think I burnt myself out with Sunday’s back-to-back QF coverage. Since that blessed day, we had Monday’s QFs, which saw Egypt (greatly aided by a calamitous Cameroonian defence as well as one extremely dodgy refereeing decision/plea for goal-line technology) and the Super Eagles of Nigeria (in a snoozefest with Zambia which finished 0-0 after extra time and finally generated some excitement via a penalty shootout) advancing to the semi-finals. Both semis are TOMORROW and they also both represent two of the most intense rivalries in African soccer…a West & a North African derby if you will.

EGYPTALGERIA is certainly the contentious contest freshest in our minds. The flames were generously fanned for their World Cup qualifying playoff match back in November, billed as a rematch of their 1989 “Match of Hate”. Media in both countries whipped their fans into a frenzy, and there was a lot of controversy in the choice of the neutral venue of Khartoum (Egypt’s preferred location, as opposed to Algeria’s suggestion of Tunis). Desert Fox fans flocked to Sudan to support their team however, with over 13,000 Algerians in attendance and ready for, well, war:

In the end, the Egyptian fans left Khartoum shaken but generally unscathed. The Egyptian health minister reported that 21 Egyptians had been injured. Nonetheless, back in Cairo, the escalation continued. The media ran stories of the Algerian government emptying its jails and transporting thousands of criminals to Sudan, of Algerian supporters chasing Egyptians with what Egypt’s English-language Al-Ahram Weekly listed as “knives, nails, daggers, switchblades, scalpels and heavy wooden sticks.” Crowds of indignant Egypt supporters tried to attack the Algerian Embassy in Cairo; dozens of policemen and fans were injured in the fighting and rock-throwing that ensued. Alaa Mubarak, the president’s son, called in repeatedly to TV talk shows to complain of the behavior of the Algerians in Khartoum and to call them “terrorists” and “mercenaries.” Elsewhere in the Egyptian media, Algerians have been described, en masse, as “uncivilized,” “violent,” and “sick.”

And of course, Algeria won 1-0. Despite the expense of travel and lodging in Angola (at least this match is in Benguela and not World’s-Most-Expensive-City Luanda) it’s expected that at least 1,000 fans from each side are set to fly down. Although Algeria have delivered more tactical compactness than aesthetic footballing thrills, surely if anything can fire to the next level it’s the intensity of this clash. It has to be said after exorcising their demons in their 3-0 loss to Malawi, Les Fennecs have looked more cohesive than any other side at CAN…except Egypt!

Hopefully there will be more fans in Luanda...

NIGERIA-GHNA is a rematch of the match that sent home the Super Eagles in the quarterfinals of CAN 2008. These two West African footballing giants have a less violent rivalry, though it has a deeeep history, going back to the 1950s Jalco Cup competition held between the two:

The 1958 edition of the JALCO Cup was perhaps the most melodramatic. The Black Stars came to Lagos determined to avenge Nigeria’s first win on Ghanaian soil. The score was 2-2 when an unfortunate, if not scandalous decision by the centre referee almost completely ruined a match of outstanding quality. Hell broke loose as the Black Stars, captained by Ghanaian legend Charles Gyamfi, protested the “goal” vehemently. A furious wife of Ohene Djan stormed the field and slapped the centre referee, causing the match to be stopped for twenty minutes.

Sadly tomorrow will likely see the Ghana WAGs more sedate. Alas, despite Ghana’s massive injury problems they still might be seen as favorites. Nigeria has been downright soporific so far this tournament, and Ghana’s youthful side seem to be gaining in confidence. This humble blogger’s predictions have been less than revelatory throughout CAN ’10…so why not just watch the games yourselves! Hopefully our editorial crew will be around tomorrow for to illuminate & unpack as these semifinal clashes unfold. CYA THEN!

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CAN ’10: Quarterfinals! Ivory Coast-Algeria

Posted in Uncategorized by Steven Villereal on January 24, 2010

Welp, having wiped away the tears shed at the departure of the Palancas Negras from CAN ’10, it’s time to pull ourselves together in order to “cover” today’s other match: COTE D’IVORE v. ALGERIE. Les Fennecs are certainly being viewed as rank underdogs: they were lifeless in their last match against Angola (admittedly a game lifeless-by-design in the 2nd half) and they scored just one goal in the group stages (from a set piece). If the western media’s team news is to be believed, some key players will miss out through injury: Rafik Saif, the man who they desperately lean on for goals; the requisite re-nationalized Frenchman & mazy dribbler Mourad Meghni; and comedian-goalkeeper-bobblemaster Fawzi Chaouchi.

If Algeria win, I buy you this mousepad

What about Les Elephants? Like Ghana, the fact that they only played 2 group stage matches makes them a bit more difficult to suss out. They reached an impressive level of team rapport when they beat Ghana 3-1, but have had more than a week’s rest since that match. They looked solid in that victory (against more talented opposition than they face today), with the midfield cohering around Yaya Toure’s leadership. Perhaps more ominously for the Algerians, the attacking trident of Kalou/Gervinho/Drogba were beginning to look dangerous indeeeeed. I am not really one for predictions, but I’m gonna put my as-yet-unconfirmed dignity on the line and say 3-0 Ivory Coast?

Sooo, here are the teams—Megni & Chaouchi are both indeed playing in goal for Algeria. Dunno if it’s mindgames or crap wire services, but the pregame news and team sheets have been wildly inaccurate so far this tourney! Ivory Coast’s only change from their win over Ghana is Hamburg rightback Guy Demel coming in for the suspended Emmanuel Eboue.

Ivory Coast: Barry, Tiene, Kolo Toure, Bamba, Demel, Zokora, Yaya Toure, Tiote, Kalou, Gervinho, Drogba.
Algeria: Chaouchi, Bougherra, Halliche, Yahia, Belhadj, Matmour, Yebda, Mansouri, Ziani, Meghni, Ghezzal.

OK, I’m gonna feast my eyes upon the sporting spectacle…watch this space!

Reverent Elephants

2 Min: We have our first firm Algerian kick to Didier Drogba’s ankle!

4 Min: 1-0 Ivory Coast! Yaya Koure attempts a sexxxy backheel on the edge of the box…it’s blocked, BUT he ball ricochets fortuitously to Salomon Kalou, who slots the ball home!

22 Min: Algeria haven’t done much, but Ivorian keeper Boubacar Barry is starting to show his eccentric side. He’s looked composed so far this tournament but in the last 5 minutes he’s almost handled outside the area while sliding to smother a ball, and more dangerously just got closed down by a defender when trying to hack a backpass clear…luckily the ball rebounded behind for a goal kick.

28 Min: Algeria had a good 10 minutes there, improving there passing communication (“finding their feet” as my English commentator puts it). They’re chipping lofted balls into the box from 25 yards or so out, trying to test the Ivorian centerbacks. However, Ivory Coast move quickly on the break and immediately Algeria look creeeeeaky defensively.

32 Min: Boubacar Barry-watch™!!! The keeper comes off his line and makes an excellent diving interception of a threatening Algerian cross.

40 Min: Algeria 1-1 Ivory Coast!!! A long ball into the boxes bounces to attacking midfielder Karim Matmour, he controls from left to right, shimmies excellently and dispatches the ball into the back of the net! Seriously skillful first couple of touches and a really powerful shot…GAME PROVERBIALLY ONNN

45 Min: OMG seriously how FUCKING SEXY IS DIDIER DROGBA?! oh, sorry.

‘TIS 1-1 @ HALFTIME and MJ is bumping on the PA in Cabinda!!! To uncreatively lean on a cliche, it’s been a half of two halves. Algeria worked out some kinks and certainly looked dangerous on the counterattack. Gotta say though they are basically shitting themselves any time Gervinho is running at them on the wing or Drogba through the middle. 45 more minutes to play here!

Halftime MJ tributes console the public in Cabinda

MJ UPDATE! It wasn’t just blaring over the soundsystem, there was a phalanx of MJ IMPERSONATORS on the pitch! Sadly my PPV feed wasn’t giving them the camera time they richly deserved…the choreography seemed tight.

PATERNALISTIC JOURNALISM UPDATE!: If I am not up-to-minute enough for you and you’d like more whining about:  a) what this whole CAN ’10 things means for English soccer  b) veiled allusions to Lazy Africans  c) criticisms of the pitch quality (why don’t they just rip it up and re-lay it at great expense like they did for the New Wembley pitch how many fucking times?!) d) blah blah blah, THEN BY ALL MEANS TUNE INTO THE BBC COVERAGE!

58 Min: Kalou jinks through two Algeria defenders and puts a shot about half a foot wide of goal…

60 Min: Algeria keeper Chaouchi is looking good in a snug American Apparel-manufactured GK’s onesy, with some classic white Pony hightops…

64 Min: The fans behind the Algerian goal get a welcome WHOOOOSH of air, as Didier Drogba whiffs an open chance at the far corner after Kalou floated in a nice cross…missed opportunity. He is still sexy as fuck though.

68 Min: Dang! CB Souleymane Bamba dithers over a backpass and is robbed by Matmour, who is then DENIED when 1-on-1 with the rapidly redeemed Boubacar Barry, making an excellent save to his left.

75 Min: Algeria’s meaty frontman are winning the physical battles with the Ivorians centerbacks. Ghezzal just had a chance about 4 yards out the he fired directly at Kolo Toure. Algeria clearly in ascendancy right now…

84 Min: Kader Keita comes on for Kalou, puts Gervinho through on goal with his first touch of the ball. Gervinho gleefully spurns the chance, putting over goal with a left footed shot. That shoulda been 2-1.

89 Min IVORY COAST 2-1 ALGERIA!!! During an Ivorian attacking move, the ball rolls to supersub Kader Keita who buries the ball into the upper lefthand corner of the net with his left foot…putting it WHERE THE OWL SLEEPS.

90+2 Min IVORY COAST 2-2 ALGERIA!!! MADNUSSSS here in Cabinda. Bamba definitely at fault as a cross from the left finds Madjid Bougherra totally unmarked at the far post…and he dutifully heads in to equalize!!! Extra time beckons…

Souleymane Bamba explains his unique marking system to Boubacar Barry

ET 2: ALGERIA SCORE A 3rd! It’s substitute Hameur Bouazza, who heads in unmarked. Ivorian leftback Tiene thoughtfully regards a surging Karim Ziana, doesn’t think to close him down and he puts in a lovely cross…luckily for Bouazza his “marker” was Souleymane Bamba!

ET 5: I need a Gatorade or something. Zokora comes off, as Cote D’Ivoire add another attacker in Arouna Dindane.

ET 8: An unmarked Didier Drogba unleashes a forceful shot just inside the box, but Chaouchi is up for it…nice save.

ET 10++++: Chaouchi has seemingly injured himself while flailing about on the ground…but wait he’s OK! Good thing the clock was running during that whole episode.

ET 14: Just as I was about to call out “old-fashioned style center forward” Ghezzal for playacting, he’s up and dabbing away the blood oozing out of his head.

EXTRA TIME HALFTIME: Still needing a Gatorade here. Can’t really see Ivory Coast overturning this now, they looked mentally crushed…then again I said they would win 3-1!

ET 16: Uhhhh, insane pinball in the Ivory Coast box. A bit too much for me to cover…it should be like 5-2 right now. A cross found Ghezzal breaking away from his “marker” at the far post, put he elected to careen the ball of his inner thigh rather than finish for a goal.

ET 19: Ivory Coast are falling apart here, with Bamba in particular a fucking joke in defense. Sooo, this match has certainly made the Ivory Coast/Brazil/Portugal/N. Korea •Group of Deathhh• look markedly less deadly.

ET 22: Chaouchi in rolling-around-on-ground SHOCKER! It looks a bit seriously though…my insight-free commentator opines “I hope he hasn’t swallowed his tongue…”

ET 28: Looks like the Algerian dogs squad are going to go through…which could set up a tasty MATCH OF HATE against Egypt if they can conquer Cameroon. There are going to be 4 minutes of extra time, about ¼ of what Chaouchi wasted rolling around on the ground with sundry ailments.

ET 30+: Ivory Coast have a Kolo Toure equalizer DISALLOWED…incorrectly. BLIMEY!

FULLTIME!  ALGERIA 3-2 IVORY COAST!!! A truly •••BONKERS••• match sends favorites Ivory Coast home packing. They were robbed of a totally legit equalizing goal at the death there, but it’s hard to pity them as they pissed away their chance to win this game. They were shocking in defense in the last 5 minutes of regulation, and ridiculously awful in extra time. Cheers to Algeria, who certainly looked like the more cohesive team.

Thanks for following along, if anyone actually did that!  BEIJINHOS!

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CAN ’10: Quarterfinals! Angola-Ghana

Posted in Uncategorized by Steven Villereal on January 24, 2010

So, after all that faffing about in the group stages, it’s DOMINGÃO, a Super-CAN Sunday—it’s finally time for the African Cup of Nations KNOCKOUT ROUNDS. I know, the last time your BOLAS & BANDEIRAS editors proclaimed a game’s do-or-die status is was the sneaky handshake deal/borefest of Angola 0-0 Algeria—well I assure you nothing of the sort will transpire today!

By qualifying for the QF, the Palancas Negras have already equaled their best past performance, when they were dumped out by winners Egypt at this stage in 2008. Things are a bit different this go-round: they’re the host nations and they’re coached by one of the most successful coaches in African football history. Unsurprisingly, the showdown is massive news in Angola! They last faced Ghana in a friendly back in November, which ended 0-0…but surely this match has a BIT more at stake. The Estadio 11 de Novembro should be stuffed to it’s 50,000 capacity, and it’s expected that 14 million Angolans will tune in on TV & radio.

What about Ghana? Their team narrative remains the same: massive injuries throughout the squad, with midfield TALISMAN Michael Essien now also officially out. So it’s up to their U-20 World Cup-winning youthmen!

Head of the Ghana Football Association Randy Abbey has made claims of mindgames and intimidatory tactics on the part of the Angolan sports establishment & press (there were reports that a Black Stars bodypainting superfan was beaten by Angolan security?!), adding that “If it’s a new form of tactics, then they better think of breaking our legs as well”.

Ethnography of the terraces

Angola: Fernandes, Kali, Rui Marques, Zuela, Mabina, Stelvio, Xara, Djalma, Gilberto, Manucho, Flavio
Ghana: Kingson, Addy, Inkoom, Sarpei, Vorsah, Agyemang-Badu, Dede Ayew, Opoku, Asamoah, Haminu, Dramani, Gyan

No big changes for either team…Flávio returns for Angola, and left-sided midfielder Gilberto has overcome injury. For Ghana, tiny little stiker Opoku is the only change. Kickoff shortly!!! I’m going to soak up the atmosphere and train my eye on proceedings…update at Halftime!

ANGOLA 0-1 GHANA at Halftime! A somewhat measured first half, with both teams focused on keeping organized and hitting on the counterattack. Ghana’s goal came from some hot Asamoah-on-Asamoah action, when Kwadwo Asamoah lofted in a defense-splitting crossfield ball which Asamoah Gyan outraced Kali to and neatly finished. Ghana are actualizing their tactical plan a bit more astutely, doing a particularly good job of getting numbers back in defense. Not all confident play from The Black Stars though, who’ve had numerous defensive mixups between their CBs (Addy in particular) and keeper Richard Kingson. Manucho has had two golden chances to equalize, the less forgivable of the two coming just before halftime as he blazed over the bar when Flávio had worked hard to control a knocked down ball and tee him up.

Roughly 20 minutes left for Angola to do this…they are looking NERVOUS, with lots of misplaced passes in the final 1/3 of the field. They’re peppering in long balls that neither Manucho nor Flávio are successfully controlling. Manuel Jose has brought on Petro Atletico winger Job on for the dazed looking Stelvio…possibly throwing on a local crowd favorite to jazz up the locals. The crowd have seemed mildly shocked, as this is the first time Angola have been behind all tournament.

PUXXXXXXA! Manucho heads just over the bar when he AGAIN really should have scored…the youngster’s mental fortitude is not quite up to the occassion today. Ze Kalanga comes on as Angola throw on more offensive firepower. TUDO OU NADA!

+5 MINS ADDED TIME here! Capitão Kali has gotten forward here and has just missed out on two tasty opportunities…INTENSIDADE!

FIM DE JOGO: ANGOLA 0-1 GHANA! Congratulations to the Black Stars, who have dismissed the hosts. An extremely well-organized, if uninspiring, performance by Ghana…their youngsters had more resolve than creativity. Angola seemed more riddled with anxiety than supercharged with emotion, they were particularly wasteful from set pieces.

Adeus Angola

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CAN ‘10: Group D CRUNCHTIME®

Posted in Uncategorized by Steven Villereal on January 21, 2010

A good Thursday to all readers who are turning to us for the “latest” on CAN ’10 news & views…it’s the last day of the group qualifiers with the conclusion of Group D. ANY of the four participants can qualify through today…and currently its TUNISIA 1-0 CAMEROON and still 0-0 between GABON (current group leaders w. 4 points) and ZAMBIA.

I’m gonna attempt to awaken my critical apparatus/put my feet up and watch the game(s?)—for TRULY up-to-the-minute journalism complete with bonus strata of cultural effluvia you HAVE to turn to casual-griot/African football analyst Paul Doyle’s coverage:

13 mins: Eto’o, marooned out on the left as part of Le Guen’s odd masterplan, collects the ball and attempts to drive inside, but is repulsed by a Tunisian defender. “Mention of the Zambia team reminds me of the days back in ’95 when I used to play Actua Soccer on the family PC,” recalls Elliot Carr-Barnsley, all misty-eyed. “Every time Kalusha Bwalya got the ball, anywhere on the pitch, the commentator (Barry Davies?) would shout “BWALIYYYAAAA” as if he’d scored. Happy days. I once spent a day playing the whole of Euro 96 on that with a friend. Good times. I remember the sun being out outside but we had no need for it.”

The game is rapidly turning ugly/heated, with the Tunisians especially seeming intent on kicking Cameroon, shin-trodding, etc.—they have 3 yellow cards already, including a barge outside the box by their keeper that likely should have been red?

Stomping out A. Song

…oooh and it’s ZAMBIA 1-0 GABON now through a Rainford Kalaba goal!!! A win would give the Chipolopolo 4 points, level with Gabon (with whom they would then win a head-to-head tiebreak!).

‘Tis CAMEROON 1-1 TUNISIA an hour in…a draw is good enough to send Cameroon through. They still look pretty wobbly at the back though, so unsure how likely it is to end 1-1!

WOBBBBBBBLLLLLE: it’s 2-1 to TUNISIA as substitute Cameroon CB Chedjou heads the ball back over his keeper for an own goal.  oh fuck and as i type it’s 2-2?! Another one of coach Paul Le Guen’s 6 substitutes is the side redeems Chedjou’s own goal: rightsided mifielder Nguemo is set up at edge of the box and blasts in. Village Elder Rigobert Song is now coming off the bench here to offer defensive “stability” to the Indomitable Lions…

…oh and meanwhile during that goal spurt, James Chamanga felt the goalvibes and put in a 2nd for the Copper Bullets of Zambia! as it stands AT THIS MOMENT, Cameroon win the group and will play Nigeria in the QF and Zambia would play Group C winners Egypt.

AND THAT IS HOW IT’LL END! The quarterfinals are all set, and we’ll have our first gameless lull of the tournament—phew! No massive surprise qualifications emerged out of the groups, save for Zambia who have to be seen as the minnows against a fluent-looking Egypt squad looking to win a record 3rd consecutive cup. Nigeria-Cameroon on Monday as well! Although both sides have showed stuttering form, Cameroon offered up more convincing evidence of offensive creativity, although their defensive frailty has been demonstrated in equally “creativity” spells.

SO LONG! Until we meet again, hopefully with a live quarterfinal extravaganza this Sunday…até la!

Sunset in Lubango and on the group stages

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CAN ’10: Group B, “CRUNCHTIME”®

Posted in Uncategorized by 00000000 on January 19, 2010

It’s official CRUNCHTIME for Group B here at Bolas & Bandieras. Unfortunately I am currently on the Megabus from Philadelphia to New York, and I don’t think the WIFI here is strong enough to support a live video stream.

Luckily, we can all follow along with Gregg Roughley at the Guardian as he updates us as to the proceedings in the BIG MATCH between the Ghana Black Stars and the mighty Burkina Faso Stallions. It’s currently scoreless after 22 minutes.

Safe Hands Diakité

Daouda Diakité did a handy job in goal against Côte d’Ivoire last week, and he’ll be hoping to keep this game scoreless, as the Burkinabe team will go through to the quarterfinals without scoring or conceding a goal if this game ends 0-0.

Ghana’s best player, Michael Essien, is out with a hamstring strain, or something. Whatever it is, it’s a blow for Ghana, although Chelsea managed to score 7 goals over the weekend without Essien.

Ghana have also flown in a pitch-expert (Frank Boahene from Green Grass Technology) to advise the Black Stars as to boot selection, and how best to physically prepare for playing on the cruddy Angolan pitches.

HALF-TIME, GHANA 1-0 BURKINA FASO

Ghana midfielder Dede Ayew scores a header (which I have not seen, but was sure to have been CRACKING) from a looping Mathew Amoah cross. The marking was apparently poor, and thanks to it, Ghana have one foot in the quarter-finals. Apparently Jonathan Pitroipa has been getting lively down the right wing for Burkina Faso. 45 minutes to go!

In other world soccer news, USMNT winger Clint Dempsey is awaiting prognosis after picking up a bad injury in the game against Blackburn Rovers. There are fears that he could be out for the rest of the season, missing out on South Africa as well.

Algeria coach Rabah Saadane denies any funny business going on during the dull 0-0 draw between Angola and Algeria which saw both teams go through to the quarterfinals.

Angolan special forces (‘dubbed “Ninjas” for their all-black uniform’) have arrested three prominent human-rights activists in relation to the FLEC shootings. All three had formerly been members of Mpalabanda, “the only human rights organization in Cabinda” (which was apparently disbanded by the Angolan government in 2006 b/c of alleged political involvement).

FULL TIME: GHANA GO THROUGH!

The match finishes without any further goals, Ghana going through in fairly unconvincing fashion. That’s tough on the Burkinabes, but they must be at least heartened by their fairly solid performance. Who knows how the group would have looked if Togo had been there to mix it up a bit. Ghana will face Angola in the quarterfinals, and I’ve got to say the home side will probably be favorites.

In other news, the Mali team are lodging a protest against dull 0-0 draws that knock them out of competitions, the Togo keeper previously reported as dead has recovered (somewhat) and his in stable condition, Chelsea condescendingly attempt to appear charitable, and Gary Neville shows the kind of mature leadership that one expects from a club like United.

y venga pibe de oro…

CAN ’10: Group A CRUNCHTIME

Posted in Uncategorized by Steven Villereal on January 18, 2010

An East Coast bom dia to our hopefully burgeoning readership! It’s MLK day, so due to the Commonwealth of Virginia’s generous holiday schedule I am here to bring you coverage of the final day of Group A action. I need another coffee, but first let’s pay our respects (not just to coffee)…”that power that can make a way out of no way”:

If you want some CAN ’10 retrospective ruminations that don’t come from the BOLAS & BANDEIRAS inkwell, check out these two pieces by the Guardian‘s tactical boffin Jonathan Wilson: a look at which teams have gelled and which haven’t (with an eye towards Egypt) as well as an Angola-Algeria preview (employing a [justified?] Westerner-amidst-African-bureaucratic-chaos narrative frame).

OH LOOK! The squads have been announced already…what an excellent time to review some injury news!

ANGOLA: Carlos Fernandes; Jamuana, Mabina, Kali, Rui Marques; Zuela, Xara, Djalma, Gilberto, Ze Kalanga; Manucho

ALGERIA: Fawzi Chaouchi; Madjid Bougherra, Rafik Halliche, Abdelkader Laifaoui; Nadir Belhadj, Karim Matmour, Hassan Yebda, Yazid Mansouri, Karim Ziani; Hameur Bouazza, Abdelkader Ghezzal

So big news is defensive destroyer Stelvio is suspended for this game and 3-goal striker Flávio misses out with a knee injury (he’s on the bench however)—Flávio is replaced by Ze Kalanga. Angola’s other midfield powerhouse, Gilberto, is in the lineup despite being an injury worry.

Angola skipper Manuel Jose meditates before battle

Mali-Malawi is also kicking off at 11am EST, but that’s on the back burner for this intrepid journalist. Suffice to say I will keep you updated—Mali need to win and Algeria need to lose for the underperforming Eagles to qualify for the knockout stage.

EDITORIAL BIAS-WATCH
: There’s no match commentary here on my stream, so I am soaking up the atmosphere—’tis THRUMPING at the Estadio 11 de Novembro in Luanda. Hopefully I haven’t picked the wrong game to watch: it’s Mali 2-0 Malawi 3 minutes into that game!!!

0-0 at HALFTIME! It was an alternately sleepy and scrappy affair out there, with both teams understandably cagey what with their qualification hopes being on the line. The only thrilling football to speak of: a crucial close-range save by Carlos Fernandes at 22′ and Angola gradually gaining self-confidence and engaging in build-up play which could someday yield a goal! Djalma had a tasty chance (but shot directly at the keeper when he should have scored) at ~43′ after a silky offense sequence sparked off by right wing-back Jamuana’s (i thiiiink Angola are  playing a 3-5-2 formation?) flick-down of a long threaded pass. Aesthetic observation: I would love to sip a ginjinha with Maneul Jose…he seems like a highly entertaining and opinionated Old Cantankerous Portuguese Man!

Editorial impartiality out of the window?—FORÇA AS PALANCAS NEGRAAAAAS

In other Group A news, Mali still lead 2-0 over Malawi. Hmmm, a draw will see both Angola & Algeria qualify, gotta wonder what Rabah Saadane & Manuel Jose make of that? OOOOOK, cya y’all at the final whistle peep.

FULL TIME ANGOLA 0-0 ALGERIA! Well, I’d like that 45 of my life back, as both teams dawdled about and played for a draw. An utterly uninspiring 2nd half, as both Angola & Algeria qualify for the quarterfinals, with Angola winning Group A.

Though its MALI 3-1 MALAWI, Les maliennes are OUT!—Kanoute, Keita, et al. exit CAN ’10.

Like Algeria they had 4 points in the group, but with head-to-head goal difference the first tie-breaker, Algeria goes through owing to their 1-0 over Mali. As some angry comments on the internet have already stated, Algeria qualify having scored just 1 goal while Mali scored 7. The Malians are no doubt the sexier squad, but this editor is obligated to review some match footage of these combatants before arguing the ethics of qualification via aesthetic criteria!

Quarterfinals? Angola will play either Burkina Faso or Ghana (perhaps even Ivory Coast if Burkino Faso score a healthy win against Ghana tomorrow). Algeria will also…play one of those teams!

“Thanks for reading”/enjoy the holiday, where applicable!

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