••• BOLAS & BANDEIRAS •••

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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