UK viewers can tune in to British EuroSport / HD and ITV4 to follow their favourite English Premier League stars of African origins such as Chelsea’s Victor Moses and John Obi Mikel fight to carry the ultimate trophy to Nigeria.
Thanks to ESPN3 and Watch ESPN, soccer fans in the United States of America have been able to watch all matches thus far. The last two fixtures of a total of 32 AFCON 2013 battles will take place this weekend. The huge event kicked off on Saturday, January 19, 2013 with hosts South Africa drawing goalless against Cape Verde. A lot happened since that opening match.
In the knockout stages, the Bafana Bafana lost to semi-finalists Mali on penalties. Cape Verde's dream came to an abrupt end against Ghana, Nigeria stunned Ivory Coast and so did Burkina Faso against Emmanuel Adebayor's Togo.
The semi-final stage provided plenty goals and thrills as the Black Stars suffered a heart-breaking loss to the Stallions while the Super Eagles brushed Mali aside. Watch the Third-place final between Ghana and Mali live at 13:00 EST / 18:00 GMT on Saturday, February 9, 2013. Catch the big final, Nigeria vs Burkina Faso, live on Sunday, February 10 at 13:00 EST / 18:00 GMT. Which country will end up winning the precious trophy?
In their semi-final encounter against the Black Stars, the Stallions were victims of arguably the worst officiating ever seen at this tournament in South Africa. They had a good penalty call turned down before the referee awarded a dubious one for the Ghanaians to break the deadlock in the first half.
However, backed by confident coach Paul Put, Burkina Faso fought back impressively. They went on level terms in the 60th minute through Aristide Bance. This strike pushed the game into extra-time where Prejuce Nakoulma had a wrongly disallowed potential winner before Pitroipa got controversially sent off.
Bronze is not what these two contenders from Group B – especially Ghana – aimed to play for. Before traveling to Nelspruit to play Burkina Faso at the Mbombela Stadium in the semis, the high-flying Black Stars had vowed not to return to Port Elizabeth where they were based for their first four matches.
The mission was to go from Port Elizabeth, to Nelspruit and then ultimately to Johannesburg for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations final. The reality turned out differently to what the Ghanaian team and its millions of fans wished for. Despite falling on the favoured side of appalling officiating by Tunisia referee Slim Jedidi against Burkina Faso, the Black Stars lost 3-2 on penalties to the Stallions after a 1-1 draw in 120 minutes.
The Black Stars play as if they have understood and mastered one major guideline: it is not how well you perform that counts but how good you are at finding your way out.
In their quarter-finals, for example, only two of their eight shots were on target; they converted these two strikes to win the match 2-0. Confidence is high in Ghana’s camp thanks to the influence of names like striker Wakaso and goalkeeper Dauda.
With three clean sheets and eight goals in their four Africa Cup of Nations matches, the Black Stars look free from headaches at the back or upfront. Remarkably, they have done that without the help of the influential Ayew brothers whom coach Kwesi Appiah controversially excluded from the AFCON 2013 squad.
Stories of unrest due to the current war in Mali have fully powered the country’s national football team to succeed in South Africa. The players, led by iconic captain Seydou Keita, carry the hopes of millions of fans back home who anxiously seek relief from their on-going sufferings marked by lack of freedom and a destroyed economic system. Clinching glory in football may not end the war but it will certainly put joy in the hearts of the people of Mali.
At the 2013 AFCON, the Malians seem to have lost the attacking instinct that saw them book a place in the tournament through a 7-1 aggregate victory over Botswana. In each of their matches, they have scored nothing more than a goal but this has proven to be enough to put them in the semi-finals. Once again, they will need to call on a high level of concentration and maintain a tight defence to avoid defeat against Nigeria.
How Ivory Coast qualified from Group D
Ivory Coast, despite not playing at full strength yet, clearly imposed themselves as the best team in their section. Togo came close to creating an upset in both sides’ opening game but Yaya Toure’s combination with Gervinho proved too hot to handle.
Surprisingly, Tunisia gave the Elephants absolutely no contest. The latter banged three goals – Gervinho and Yaya Toure on target again. This saw the Ivoirians become the first AFCON 2013 quarter-finalists.
The last match against Algeria did not matter much but when Feghouli and Soudani scored second half goals, Didier Drogba and Wilfried Bony roared back with very late goals to redeem authority.
Both sides met in a friendly match played in Portugal last November. Barely three months since then, they are vying in the AFCON 2013 Last 8.
How Ghana qualified from Group B
The Black Stars were the first side to hit the back of the net at this 2013 Africa Cup of Nations. Goals from Agyemang Badu and Kwadwo Asamoah seemed to have given a sure victory for Ghana but opponents Congo DR had other ideas. Mputu reduced the deficit before Mbokani cut the Ghanaians’ points through a 68th minute penalty goal.
The Algerians can only feel sorry about their fate. Despite exhibiting great possessive football with one-twos and quick reaction on the ball in their first two AFCON 2013 matches, they now find themselves out of the competition.
Football is mostly about scoring and that is what Algeria failed to do against Tunisia and Togo respectively. Pride will be at stake against Ivory Coast.
As the first team to qualify for quarter-finals of the tournament, the Elephants have made good use of Yaya Toure and Gervinho’s influence. These two players are set to be given a rest by their manager against Algeria. Didier Drogba, who is yet to explode on stage in South Africa, might also support his team mates from the bench.
Ethiopia made a dream start to the competition by holding African champions Zambia to a 1-1 draw despite the sending off of their first-choice goalkeeper Jemal Tassew. The Afrocentric side, coached by ex-CECAFA Cup winner Sewnet Bishaw, went into their second AFCON 2013 fixture with huge backing from the seduced public.
However, a slick attacking Burkina Faso side gunned down the Black Lions with no mercy. Four goals without reply now see Ethiopia’s fate hanging in the balance. The former African titans need a miracle but so do Stephen Keshi’s Nigerians.
In the previous round of fixtures, Niger gave Congo much space but both teams were too wasteful and unlucky at times so the match ended goalless. It could be a mistake for the Menas to approach Ghana with a positive style.
The Black Stars boosted their confidence thanks to a 1-0 win over Mali in their second game. The absence of penalty goal scorer Wakaso, through injury, may not harm Ghana much as captain Asamoah Gyan will be looking to steal the spotlight at last.
The Elephants did not impress the public against Togo but moments of brilliance from Gervinho and Yaya Toure made the difference.
Skipper Didier Drogba did not play the full match. The ageing striker will surely be targeted by Tunisia's defenders. Ivory Coast supporters will be hoping Drogba steps up to the challenge and opens his AFCON 2013 account with a goal.
The Tunisians do not possess mega stars. They would easily loose a contest against the Ivoirians on paper. However, the football on the pitch will decided matters on Saturday afternoon.
The first round of matches in Group C ended as it started with no team ahead of the other. Zambia and Nigeria both failed to protect 1-0 leads against less important sides – Ethiopia and Burkina Faso respectively.
Friday’s fixture will be like a final for the Super Eagles and the Chipolopolo. The smallest difference could play a huge role in defining the fate of these two giants. Africa Cup of Nations winning coach Herve Renard has a huge problem to solve as his men have not won a single match since November 2012.
History was made last Sunday as Mali became the first side to win a match at the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations. An 84th minute goal from national hero Seydou Keita settled things at the disappointment of Niger. What motivates the current Group B leaders is the war back home. The Malians will be confident of beating Ghana for the second time in 13 months.
The pressure on the Black Stars to deliver is intense after their opening match against Congo DR produced an unconvincing outcome. The Ghanaians squandered a 2-0 advantage as the match ended all square.
Both teams enter the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations in good form. The Togolese will feel relieved to have Adebayor on their team sheet. The presence of the Tottenham Hotspur attacker was in doubt until the very final preparation moments.
The Sparrow Hawks have been accused of depending too much on Adebayor. The team will have the chance to retort to critics on Tuesday. In fact, it takes great composure to deny the Elephants of Ivory Coast from causing an earthquake. They are the overwhelming favourites to steal the AFCON 2013 trophy away from South Africa.
Nigerian fans will not accept a slow start from their team even if it has been almost three years since the Super Eagles last appeared on a big stage. Stephen Keshi’s side are under intense pressure to deliver in South Africa but they possess great momentum.
The controversial exclusion of playmaker Peter Odemwingie for this tournament will be re-evaluated and judged based on Nigeria’s display. The Super Eagles, who drew blank in their 2013 Africa Cup of Nations warm-up match against debutants Cape Verde, could find it hard to break Burkina Faso’s goal line.
Thanks to convincing victories in warm-up matches against Egypt and Tunisia, the Black Stars are in positive mood ahead of their big AFCON 2013 opening fixture. The Ghanaians, often criticized for netting a few amount of goals in contrast to their number of chances per game, have now started scoring from set pieces.
Midfielder Agyemang Badu and defender John Boye both scored with headers from free-kicks against Egypt and Tunisia. On a rather ironic note, confidence seems higher among Ghanaian fans due to Asamoah Gyan’s promise to never take penalties again – after he squandered crucial ones at the 2010 FIFA World Cup and the 2012 AFCON.
The Elephants quickly put themselves back together after dramatically losing to Zambia in the 2012 AFCON final. Ivory Coast are arguably the strongest side in Africa and their team sheet is the envy of many coaches.
The country is fortunate to have the likes of Yaya Toure, Didier Drogba and Gervinho present in the same generation. The one thing that is missing is an Africa Cup of Nations trophy. In December 2012, Didier Drogba exclusively told LiveSoccerTV.com that the title is not an obsession but his statement may only be a way to ease the pressure off Ivory Coast.
For many, the Chipolopolo’s triumph at the 2012 AFCON was purely a matter of luck. However, coach Herve Renard will be out to prove that his side deserved the cup. Defending the title will not be easy but putting on a good show is a must for the reigning African champions.
The Zambians enter the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa on the wrong foot having failed to score a single goal in January. Three warm-up matches ended in one defeat and two consecutive draws against Angola, Morocco and Norway respectively.