Report: Africa Cup of Nations 2015

Malaria hits Ghana skipper, Tunisia and Cape Verde draw, Zambia loses Sinkala at CAN day two

A health worker checks the temperature of a passenger at Bata Airport, Equatorial Guinea, where teams arriving for CAN must be tested for Ebola
A health worker checks the temperature of a passenger at Bata Airport, Equatorial Guinea, where teams arriving for CAN must be tested for Ebola Reuters/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

On day two of the Africa Cup of Nations we learned that Ebola is not the only disease stalking the continent, Tunisia and Cape Verde were back to square one,

  • There are other diseases out there. Morocco declined to host the tournament this month due to fears over the Ebola epidemic sweeping west Africa. That the Ghana skipper Asamoah Gyan was taken to hospital on Saturday night suffering from the early stages of malaria is a stark reminder that this disease claims 584,000 lives annually – a far larger toll than Ebola.
  • There’s a different way of seeing a draw. Tunisia and Cape Verde drew their first game in Group B 1-1. The Tunisia coach, George Leekens, wasn’t at all happy after his side squandered the lead. “It is back to square one for all of us,” he said. “It makes the next games that much more important." Leekens’ counterpart, Rui Aguas, commented: “We wanted to win but we have to remember we came from one down so I think it was a good result at the end of the day.” Funny old game, football.
  • Bad news for Zambia. Midfield enforcer Nathan Sinkala has been ruled out of the tournament. The 23-year-old injured his knee during the 1-1 draw against Democratic Republic of Congo. Team doctor Joseph Kabungo said that Sinkala would need at least four weeks to recover.
  • Shakes Mashaba definitely doesn’t have four weeks to recover. The South Africa coach ripped up the rule books and went back to his roots on day two. Before his side’s clash on day three with Algeria, he decided that he would conduct the official press conference in Zulu, much to the chagrin of the Senegalese, Algerian and Ghanaian reporters who’d gathered to hear his views on his team's prospects in Group C. Amid much wailing and gnashing of teeth from the assembled hacks, an interpreter was found and an ad-hoc rendition of Mashaba’s musings were aired. However, the move was a flagrant breach of the protocol established by the Confederation of African Football, which organises the Africa Cup of Nations. French and English are the official languages of the tournament. A CAF media man told the review that if journalists and trainers want to do local lingo, the mixed zone after a match is the place to do so. Mashaba has been warned. His post match conference on day three should be intriguing.
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  • You really can’t make this up. If the review had tried to concoct this scenario, we would have had to submit ourselves to that rarest of birds for us – restraint on the grounds of implausibility.  But lo, the gods of journalism are bestowing sweetmeats upon us. The wonderful thing about the Mashaba Zulu homeland tribute was that his push for linguistic sovereignty was evidently on the spur of the moment. He was obviously fuming about having to speak English and was making his feelings clear under his breath. Problem for him was that the microphones of the befuddled reporters were running. The review just loved the way the startled CAF media officer was trying to cajole the coach to reconsider his position which just led to a tougher stance. Unshakeable Mashaba bristled (in English): “People are forcing me to speak a language that’s not my language. You can’t force me. This is the Africa Cup of Nations. There shouldn’t be one dictating to another. We’ve got to come together to understand one another. Whether you get aggressive or not, I speak my own language, that’s all.” The threat of an official reprimand and a 90,000-euro fine might rekindle his love for conformity.

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