It seems other team were content with the precedence set by the other groups; it was more draw galore in Group C. The first game was between defending champions Zambia and the outside odds Ethiopia. Before the game kicked off, the game was considered a stroll in the park for the Zambian on the basis of experience and strength. The game commenced on blistering tempo as both teams displayed immediate high intensity. The Ethiopians matched the Zambia right from the start of the game – they pressed on hard and their effort paid off when Said Saladain – the best Ethiopian player was brought down by the Zambian defender Joseph Musonda in the penalty box. The game was not short of dramas as the Ethiopian goalkeeper was given a red card for flying into oncoming striker. The Ethiopian did seize the opportunity as the Zambian goal keeper Kennedy Mwane punched it out. The Zambian however got their breakthrough when former Portsmouth striker Colin Mbesuma fired in the opener past the Ethiopia substitute goalkeeper. The Ethiopians however did not relent as they continue to mount up the pressure to get the equaliser, their effort paid off when Grima fired in a wonderfully worked incisive pass from Saladain Said which sent the thousands of Ethiopians into wild jubilation.
The other game involving the Super Eagles of Nigeria and the Stallions of Burkina Faso end in a dramatic fashion, it was a game that had the mixture relief and disappointments. The Nigerian team were looking to banish the memories of the last world cup, after failing to qualify for the last African Cup of Nations hosted in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon, Stephen Keshi replaced Samson Siasia and was saddled with the responsibility of raising a team compared to the glory days of the ninety’s. There are seventeen players making their debut in the Nigerian squad. The Burkinabe on the other hand were missing Charles Kabore of Olympic Marseille due to injury. The Nigeria team started the game well, dominating throughout the first half ,wasted some goal scoring opportunities, Nigeria’s effort paid off when Russian based striker Emmanuel Emenike slotted in a flick on from Dynamo Kiev Striker – Brown Ideye. The second half began with Nigeria missing more scoring chances; John Mikel Obi was in the midfield spraying the passes as the game drags toward the end, the Stallions began to surge forward in search of an equaliser. The discipline of Nigerian was beginning to take its toll as they bagged four yellow cards – the turning point would however be the second yellow card shown to Celtic‘s central defender Ambrose Efe . The Nigerian team were eventually punished for their profligacy when Pitriopa weak cross was not cleared by debutant Godfrey Obaobona and Alain Traore subsequently pounced on the loose ball and fired it at the death of the game. The team from Burkina Faso were definitely the happier of the two teams.
The last group detached itself from the draw syndrome that has stigmatised other groups, there were victories in both games; however it was earned in the tightest of situations. The Elephants of Ivory Coast comprising some of the best talent in the Ivorian football history cames into this competition as favourite; the Ivorian would be looking to wipe out the memories of that last edition – losing to Zambia on penalties the finals . The opening game against West African neighbours Togo began on a very casual note with both team playing with some caution, Tottenham Hotspur striker Emmanuel Adebayor got the chance, when Manchester City defender Kolo Toure missed a back pass, but Adebayor could not get the ball past the Ivorian Goalkeeper, The game was restricted to the middle of the pack most of the time, sooner the African Player of the year Yaya Toure struck hard and the ball went in via a deflection. The goal calmed the nerves of the Ivoirians, restricting the Togolese to long balls; the game was quite scrappy as it was marred by a lot infringements and fouls. The Adebayor led team got their chance towards the end of the game – a corner kick crossed in went past defenders and found Ayite well position who wasted no time is sweeping the ball in. The Ivorian kept on fighting hard a against a resilient defence of the Togolese team. A Kolo Toure ‘s freekick found Arsenal Gervinho locking around in the left hand corner and slot in a crisp and clinical finish which wrapped up the game for the Ivorians. The second game of the group was not different as it was also another North African derby. The Algeria had the better chance to wrap up the games as the waste plethora of begging chances. They were however punished for no taking their chance toward the tail end of the game when Qatar based Muskani took advantage of a clear chance, shot the ball past the goalkeeper that gave the Tunisians the victory. Tunisia key striker Issam Jemaa had to be replaced early in the first half due to injury. The Algerian have now failed to score in five of their last seven matches in the African Cup of Nations.
Zambia 1 Vs Ethiopia 1
Nigeria 1 Vs Burkina 1
Ivory Coast 1 Vs Togo 1
Tunisia 1 Vs Algeria 0
Oba Adeola Amokomowo
Bundesliga /African Soccer Contributor