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Report: Africa Cup of Nations 2015

Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana in semi-final at CAN

Côte d'Ivoire's Wilfried Bony celebrates his second goal during their match against Algeria
Côte d'Ivoire's Wilfried Bony celebrates his second goal during their match against Algeria Reuters/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

Five things we learned from day sixteen.

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  • You don’t have to be spectacular, just solid.

It seems a long time ago that Ghana were seven minutes away from elimination. In fact it was on day 11. It was 1-1 against South Africa. And the end was nigh. André Ayew headed in and they beat the South Africans 2-1 to top their group. The quarter-final against Guinea was low on thrills, high on pragmatics. Ghana didn’t give the ball away, were happy to keep possession while they were leading 1-0 and they kept harrying the Guineans who didn’t register a shot on target for the first 45 minutes.

  • Guinea pigged out on their luck.

Guinea’s lottery win on day 13 at the Malabo Hilton appears to be where their luck reached its apogee. There was scant evidence of it during the quarter-final against Ghana at Malabo stadium on day 16. The odd bounce here or there seemed to end up near a Ghana player and in the 44th minute when Baissama Sankoh skewed a clearance it went to a Ghana player rather than into touch or even to his keeper. Kwesi Appiah gleefully lapped up his chance and slotted past a hapless Naby Yattara. That was 2-0. And you felt after that it was a question of damage limitation. It ended 3-0 after a stunning 30 metre strike from Christian Atsu.

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  • The path to the final opens up.

Having worked their way past Guinea, next up for Ghana are Equatorial Guinea. They are the worst ranked team in the competition and the review doesn’t see the Ghana team squandering an opportunity to get past them like the Tunisians did on day 15.

  • Go out in a yellow blaze.

Much has been made about Guinea’s luck of the draw on day thirteen at the Malabo Hilton to go past Mali as Group D runners-up. Under the old criteria of yellow cards accumulated they would have passed as they’d only had two players booked during their three Group D games whereas Mali had five. During the match against Ghana, four Guineans troubled the referee’s book. Seems quite cruel of the review this, but double and quit.

  • The future is orange but not bright.

OK, this is a slight twist of an advertisement for the mobile phone company Orange. Côte d’Ivoire wear an orange strip and very fetching it is too. Quite why they’re nicknamed the Elephants with such a colour is another issue for another day. Côte d’Ivoire dispatched Algeria on day sixteen with a 3-1 victory in Malabo. Wilfried Bony showing why English champions Manchester City splashed out 30 million euros to acquire his services with a brace. Off the fans went singing into the capital’s night. But some of those supporters were reporters. And they bellowed their way into the area where post-match interviews are conducted. They continued their raucous tunes – much to the chagrin of a group of Algerian journalists and an array of neutrals. Tempers rose and it kicked off. Scuffles, ugly snorting. Hardly sporting and quite bizarre. As one Ghanaian TV reporter said to the review: "This wouldn’t happen if Ghana were playing England." The review replied: "You, outside." "You’d be down in three," taunted the TV tough guy. And so it jollied on while our north and west African cousins capered in the evening haze. Quite where these lads find the energy for such redundant emotion is beyond the review’s ken. We have to yield to the reality that our testosterone is waning and we’ve never cared so much about a football team that we’d get into a fight while doing our job. We need to keep our wits and teeth about us. We’re a much loved public service.

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