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Report: Africa Cup of Nations 2015

Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire prepare for tough final on day 22 of CAN

Ghana's Andre Ayew at a training session at Bikuy on the outskirts of Bata on Saturday
Ghana's Andre Ayew at a training session at Bikuy on the outskirts of Bata on Saturday Reuters/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

Both Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire say they're ready for a tough final but are they really heavyweights? There are existential and gymnastic questions to ponder on day 22 of the African Cup of Nations

  • It’s going to be tough.

And then there were two. On the eve of the final, Côte d’Ivoire coach Hervé Renard said the final against Ghana was going to be a tough match. The Ghana coach Avram Grant said it was going to be a tough match against Côte d’Ivoire. We can only go away and accept that it is going to be a tough match.

  • How can you be a heavyweight if you’ve not won anything?

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The review was pondering this knotty issue. Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire are offered to us as continental heavyweights. Yet analysis of their records at the Cup of Nations shows a lamentable lack of silverware. Ghana last won the trophy in 1982 and Côte d’Ivoire lifted the bauble for the first and only time in 1992. Are they considered big because they beat everybody else without actually winning? Hmm. Well, at least one of them will be chirpy on day 23.

  • That threat worked.

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) got really nasty with Equatorial Guinea over its miscreant fans who for three consecutive games caused no end of trouble. Their stupidity culminated in the ugliness on day 20 during the semi-final with Ghana in Malabo in which all kinds of missiles were thrown at the Ghana supporters, the players on the pitch and even the ball-boys. How insane can it be? The third place play-off took place at the same Malabo stadium where all the aggression occurred against Ghana. This time there was a threat of the national team playing behind closed doors if there was any more trouble. There was no naughtiness as only around 4,000 people turned up for the match.

  • How to psych out the penalty taker

With only a few days to go of the tournament, we’re going to get existential on your ass. Albert Camus, one time goalkeeper; eternal inspiration, said, “All that I know most surely about morality and obligations I owe to football.” Despite being born into searing poverty in Algiers, the boy Camus done well, he became a giant of French literature and Nobel prize-winner. He also played in goal and the lonely post perhaps spawned his reflections on alienation and apartness. The review is particularly fond of L’Etranger and had a strange soft spot for La Peste, although it always struck the review that disease was something that united us all. Ah yes, we are together in the epidemic but we are alone at the final moment. The layers, the layers. We digress. Therefore we are. No, that’s another philosopher. We thought about the loneliness of the long distance walk to the penalty spot during the shoot-out between Democratic Republic of Congo and Equatorial Guinea in the third place play-off in Malabo. Javier Balboa, hero of the quarter-final against Tunisia was trudging towards the spot. The 38-year-old DRC keeper Robert Kidiaba prepared for the duel by doing a backwards somersault with such a tight coil that his feet landed virtually in the same position they had left a couple of seconds earlier. While the watching partisans may not have been impressed by such virile gymnastic gamesmanship – we certainly were - Balboa was unhinged and he missed his kick.

  • He’s a card, that Kidiaba.

The keeper has a bouncing bottom celebration. It involves him sitting on the floor and bumping along on his bottom. Don’t try this at home kids. It’s not as easy as it sounds. We say that because some of his teammates decided to join in with less success. It’s Kidiaba’s play. And everyone was having a good time after the penalty shoot-out win over Equatorial Guinea. It was DRC’s best performance at the Cup of Nations since 1998. We say “Well done!” to the lads. And we wholeheartedly approve of such jolliness. Gathering in a corner and jumping or swaying your hips is so vertical.

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