African Nations Cup: Ghana clashes with Nigeria Sunday

3 February 2008 at 02:20 | 3796 views

By Abu B. Shaw, London.

Ghana 2008 African Nations Cup competition has metamorphosed in to the last eight countries after eight other national teams packed their bags to head back home.

Those that took early exit included the Copper Bullets of Zambia, the Squirrels of Benin, the Atlas of Morocco, Lions of Senegal, Bafana Bafana of South Africa, Sudan, Mali and Namibia.

The eight quarter-finalists are host Black Stars of Ghana, Nigeria’s Super Eagles, Guinea’s Syli Nationale, the Elephants of Ivory Coast, Lions of Tunisia, Cameroon’s Indobitable Lions, Pharaoh’s of Egypt and surprise team Angola.

The first quarter-final games take place tomorrow Sunday February, 3. Already dubbed super Sunday, this is the clash of the titans. Ghana, led by man of the moment Sulley Muntari of English Premier League club Portsmouth, will be using their lucky stars to plot the down fall of bitter rivals Super Eagles of Nigeria with their inspirational striker Obafemi Martins of Newcastle United starting upfront.

The Ivory Coast, captained by African Footballer of the year and Chelsea’s giant striker Didier Drogba, will be marshalling their experienced troops to silence their francophone counterpart La Guinee’s Syli Nationale, who are unfortunately without their talismanic skipper Pascal Feindouno of French side St. Etienne.

On Monday, February 4, the second quarter-final matches will unfold. This will involve the defending champions Egypt, Angola, Tunisia and Cameroon. Egypt, the only five time winners of this tournament, will be putting their hopes on the mighty Pharaoh to help them demolish the minnows Angola led by Manchester United new golden boy Manucho who was signed from Angolan club Petro Atletico. Cameroon will be relying on their roaring Lion, Samuel Eto’O of Barcelona to unlock the goals that will eventually oust the experienced Lions of Tunisians.

Ghana, four time winners of the African Nations Cup, matched in to the last eight with a 100% record after drubbing Guinea 1-0 in a hard fought opening encounter. The Black Stars also outwitted Namibia 1-0 and dumped Morocco 2-0. Syli Nationale of Guinea qualified in to last eight after licking Morocco 3-2 and drawing 1-1 with Namibia. The Elephants of La Cote D’Ivoire Ivory went in to last eight by overpowering Nigeria 1-0, thumping both first timer Benin and the Malians 4-1 and 3-1 respectively.

Cameroon’s Indobitable Lions sailed through to the quarter finals by brushing aside Al Sudan 3-0 and beating Zambia 1-0. That was all after their disappointing lose in the opening match against defending champions Egypt. Egypt went on to qualify for the elite stage by drubbing Cameroon 4-2, drawing 1-1 with Zambia.

Come Thursday February 7, the winners of the quarter-finals will lock horns in the semi finals; while the battle for third and fourth places will go ahead on Friday.

The grand finale of the 26th edition of the African Nations Cup is slated for Sunday February 10 in the Ghanaian capital Accra. Interestingly, sports pundits have put their bets on the Ghanaians and Ivorians as hot favourites to lift this year’s trophy. It remains to be seen if Ghana can equal Egypt’s five times winning record. May the best side win.

Photo: Former Nigeria national team captain Sunday Oliseh, now a BBC pundit.