The African Cup of Nations is an interesting competition. The standard of football fluctuates between the incredible and confusing; it ruins the new year for a number of European managers and will always have an astonishing team absence…or three.
But, even if the number of goals falls, the number of incidents and moments that stay in the memory remains.
You are guaranteed great goal celebrations, hairstyles and total screw-ups that you just don’t see in other international competitions.
The 2017 event is no different, and even though AFCON is yet to reach the knock out stage, there have been a number of notable moments. Here a just a few. Check back because we’ll be adding more.
You had to feel for Sadio after the quarter-final match with Cameroon. The forward who is undoubtedly one of the shining lights of Africa missed the crucial penalty in Senegal’s shootout loss and was subsequently comforted by being dragged around like a petulant child that doesn’t want to leave a sweet shop.
To make things worse, in his absence Liverpool haven’t won a single league game and were knocked out of two competitions in a week!
We feel your pain Sadio.
The notions associated with African players have changed over the last couple of decades, with a number of players from the continent being considered world stars regardless of their background.
Unfortunately the African goalkeeper is still a mysterious creature that to the general public defies all logic with questionable acts.
I have tried to defend shot stoppers by bringing up the incredible feats of Vincent Enyeama and Carlos Kameni and it would help if players didn’t do crazy things to support the generalisations… unfortunately Khadim N’Diaye didn’t get the memo.
The more cynical viewer would think he was trying to waste time which seems crazy because even if the team had conceded a late goal they would still have gone through!
When Pierre wears the yellow jersey of Borussia Dortmund, there is very little that goes wrong. The speedster scores goals at an exceptional rate and is without question one of the prized prospects in world football.
However when he represents the Panthers, no matter how hard he tries, things don’t go as smoothly. The team have either failed to qualify for the knockout stages or the competition proper for the last three editions, and when they last got to the quarters, Monsieur Aubameyang missed the only penalty in the shootout.
With the 2017 competition being held in Gabon, it’s likely that Pierre had a number of dreams where he scored the winning goal in the final, lifted the trophy to a rapturous crowd in Liberville and drove off into the sunset on a motorcycle with Rihanna holding his waist tightly.
Unfortunately Aubameyang missed this gilt-edged chance when it mattered the most.
The match between Mali and Egypt didn’t have many notable moments, as the two teams spent 90 minutes doing their best impressions of two teams that didn’t want to score.
Samba Sow was brought on in the middle of the second half to try and bring a little bit of experience to Mali, with the defensive midfielder being the most capped outfield player in the squad.
He probably wished that the coverage on the drab match had ended early, because he did the kind of meme worthy thing that makes incident-hungry purveyors of the internet salivate……… (pun intended).
Emmanuel Adebayor doesn’t have many supporters in the British Isles. Maybe it’s because he ditched Arsenal and then supported like a mad man when he scored against them the following season.
Maybe it’s because he probably (definitely) kicked Robin van Persie in the face on purpose. Maybe it’s because he took part in an interview wearing an Arsenal shirt……..while playing for Man City. Maybe it’s because he refused to train with the Manchester club the next year…… who knows.
But when the puzzling striker said ‘I have a bad reputation in England and I don’t know why’, he might have just outdone himself.
The past few years have not been kind to the West African powerhouse. The golden generation of Samuel Eto’o, Kameni and the many Songs seems so long ago, and the nation has only progressed to the knock-out stages once in the last four tournaments.
As a result the fans have taken to celebrate any graces that the not-so Indominatable Lions offer nowadays. A section of the fans have brought attention to themselves, with one man in particular being seen as the ring leader.
The Ghanaian team are renowned for their celebrations in international tournaments with Kangaroo dances, Azontos and just about anything else that Asamoah Gyan feels like doing.
When the striker prepped his boys after scoring against Mali, everyone expected something special. To be honest it wasn’t one of his better dances, but after commenting that the inspiration for the synchronised dance was the hit song ‘Confession’ by Kofi Kinaata (which has a lyric about asking God to steer the wheel) the celebration won a couple of bonus points.
Gone are the days of over-sized kits that look like they could be pyjamas with basic colour contrasting. Ever since Puma changed the game, ugly colour schemes on kits unworthy of a donation box are no longer a part of the competition.
The plethora of nicknames that grace the nations across the continent offers great scope for artistic expression in kits and the creative guys at Puma always offer something interesting.
The Lions of Teranga have the best kit at the competition with a plain white kit complemented with a multi-coloured Lion, so even if they don’t win they can have that little blessing.