Africa Cup of Nations: Five things we learned on Day 20
The video assistant referee - Var - comes to the extravaganza and is deployed to show us all what the officials on the field have been missing. Benin and South Africa will be missing the rest of the tournament.
No Mo heroics any more
There was quite a crowd at the Cairo International Stadium for the quarter-final between Nigeria and South Africa. Many were wearing the red shirts of Egypt. The hosts would have been there had they not been beaten by South Africa. Had the partisans come to hail their betters? Not exactly. They had amassed to emit animosity over the South Africans. When the names of the South Africa side were read out over the PA system, there were boos and jeers. And the Nigerian goals were greeted as if Egypt had scored. Football fans eh? Bloody hell.
Benin’s adventure at the Africa Cup of Nations came to an end. It was an honourable departure for Michel Dussuyer’s men. They lost 1-0 to Senegal. Idrissa Gana Gueye scored in the 70th minute. It was his fourth international goal. Sadio Mané laid on the pass for Gueye’s strike. Mané is joint top scorer with three goals at the tournament and in line for the golden boot. He is also top of the missed penalty lists with two and also – after the arrival of the video assistant referee (Var) - leader in the disallowed goals race also with two. The Mané to beat.
The Confederation of African Footbal (Caf) has been organising the Cup of Nations since 1957 and this, the 32nd edition, has witnessed 24 teams for the first time and the use of Var. The technology wasn’t available before the last eight due to operating difficulties. The officials at the Cairo International Stadium employed it to verify Bongani Zungu’s strike for South Africa. Var? Terrible idea, according to many of the locals. We wonder why.
Keep schtum Gernot
On the eve of the South Africa clash, the Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr joked he might be tempting fate if he spoke about how his side had learned to defend better at set pieces. Day 20? Nigeria concede an equaliser from a set piece. Mein lieber Gernot, we are all fortune’s strumpet.
Farewell then Stuart Baxter and Bafana Bafana. Defeated by Nigeria. At least you went well. Back in the game after equalising, Baxter said he decided to pursue victory as South Africa had the momentum. “If we had gone defensive after scoring it would have been admitting that I didn’t think we were good enough to beat Nigeria.” Out of the question for Baxter. “I think in a tournament you have got to take that chance,” added the 65-year-old. “You have an obligation to the game of football to be positive in those circumstances.” Old school. Class.