Report: Africa Cup of Nations 2015

Mashaba conforms, SA stands up to Algeria, Ghana loses to Senegal at CAN day three

Algeria's Islam Slimani (c) congratulates his teammates after a goal against South Africa
Algeria's Islam Slimani (c) congratulates his teammates after a goal against South Africa AFP

On day three of the Africa Cup of Nations Spanish became an announcer’s language, Mashaba became a conformist, South Africa were all over Algeria, Mobdji must have thought he was still in Genk and Ghana keeps up its morale, despite losing to Senegal.

  • It’s French and English in press conferences but it’s altogether different on the field of play. We don’t want to be dogmatic, but. After the hullabaloo about Zulu in the day two prematch press conference of Unshakeable Mashaba, it was
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  • interesting to note that the stadium announcements during the opening Group C matches in Mongomo were in Spanish and French.

  • Change is a beautiful thing. The daily review has, over the years, been swift to condemn. We’ve also been quick to complement. So paeans all round please for the rapid transformation of Mashaba into fully fledged conformist. His press conference after his side’s 3-1 defeat to Algeria was in English and orderly. Perhaps that prospect of a 90,000-euro fine and a formal reprimand if he spoke Zulu again in a press conference had reconfigured his thinking.
  • Changing is a beautiful thing (2). When Shakes dug up his roots on day two, he’d just finished a training session with his team and it was late. He was in his tracksuit and it had been a long day. Admittedly, after his side had just blown the game against Algeria, he can’t have been in the best of moods. But he was a picture of sartorial elegance in his three-piece blue suit, pastel shirt and floral tie. Slicks Mashaba was quietly contemplative as he came to terms with how his team had just deconstructed what would have been the biggest shock of the tournament. Absolutely no-one took issue with him when he said the better team had lost.
  • When you’re in luck …you’re in luck. South Africa were all over Algeria in their game. They were doing a Barcelona on them. Intricate passing and movement, it quite bewitched the putative favourites. The South Africans scored, missed a penalty and then one of their players put one through his own net. From 1-1 there was only one way it was going to go. Sure enough, lax South African defending and a goalkeeper’s howler meant that Algerians topped the group after the first round of games. The 3-1 scoreline rather flattered them. But they won’t care. They’re Africa ’s top team and tournament favourites. But perhaps they’ve used up too much of their stock of luck in the victory.
  • There’s a lightweight in the Senegal back line. The opening match between Senegal and Ghana took place in the late afternoon when temperatures were descending gently from a 30-degree high. It was therefore surprising to see Serigne Mbodji wearing gloves. The Genk defender must be thinking that he’s still back in chilly Belgium rather than sweltering Equatorial Guinea . Still if the 25-year-old wants to wear gloves, it’s his business. As he stands 1m 92cm and weighs 85kg, the review is not about to tell him (to his face) that he’s a big girl’s blouse.
  • Is optimism the haven of the benighted? Unusual, maybe even unprecedented, for the review to pose a question when in fact we’re supposed to be dispensing knowledge. But if Shakes can change into Slicks, then, damn it, we can go ontological on your ass. That’s a reference to a phrase from Quentin Tarantino’s movie Pulp Fiction, just in case it appeared the review was becoming potty-mouthed. Anyway, the Ghana coach Avram Grant was bursting with optimism following his side’s last gasp defeat to Senegal. Moussa Sow broke Ghanaian hearts with a goal deep, deep, deep into stoppage time. Grant was cool in his post-match comments. He summoned up the 2010 World Cup in South Africa where the much-fancied Spaniards lost their opening game to Switzerland . And Spain went on to win the title, Grant recalled.

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