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2008 African Nations Cup diary

©

Latest update : 2008-02-08

FRANCE 24's correspondent François Picard reports from Ghana, host to the XXVI African Nations Cup competition.

 

Friday, Feb. 8

 

 

 

Kumasi, semi-final day

 

A collective groan overcomes Ghana's second city shortly after 6pm when on the giant screen, Cameroonian substitute Nkonda - against the run of play - shatters what hitherto seemed like a predestined march to the title for the hosts.

  

Across the capital of Ashanti, those little plastic horns suddenly go silent. But if you've got a ticket for the second semi-final between Ivory Coast and Egypt, there's no point staying home and moping. The sea of orange supporters has this in common with the Ghanaians: an unshakeable certitude that the title belongs to Ivory Coast's by right, a certitude comforted by four wins in four matches with only one goal conceded.

 

The game kicks off with the neutral spectators returning to life. They can enjoy the Ivorians' individual skills and the Egyptians' uncanny teamwork. The Pharaoes exploit an all-too patchy defense. The Ghanaians, who generally support their Ivorian neighbors, also know their football.

 

At half-time, the Egyptians only lead 1-0 but the Baba Yara Stadium's already braced for more after several close calls. That's precisely when an orange shirt-clad spectator of a certain size (and weight) decides he's had enough of the playful needling of an Anglophone gentlemen several rows back. The Ivorian jumps out of his seat, digs deep in his pocket, and brandishes... a plastic badge. "You see this," he shouts in French. "Me, I'm a policeman and when you come to Ivory Coast, we'll take care of you." Alas for our man on a mission, no translation required. His infuriated summation triggers mostly laughter, even among fellow Ivoirians, who for one fleeting instant, forget the nightmare unfolding for their team.

 

 

Wednesday 6 February

  

All the talk is about the semi-final between the hosts Ghana and Cameroon, who are coached by the former Black Stars manager Otto Pfister. The Ghanean Times writes: "At his age and disposition, many people would simply be waiting for God. But Septuagenarian Pfister is still puffing his cigarette and plotting the downfall of the opponents of one of the most formidable national teams on the African continent."

 

Date created : 2008-02-06

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