Report: Africa Cup of Nations 2015

Senegal celebrates as Ghana licks its wounds, Keita plays 100th game for Mali, Zambia ready for Tunisia

Seydou Keita played his 100th game for his country on day four of ACN
Seydou Keita played his 100th game for his country on day four of ACN AFP

On day four at the Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) Senegal celebrated their first CAN win for five years while Ghana licked their wounds, favourites fail to shine and Zambia’s coach boasted “We have the strength” against Tunisia.

  •  They danced the night away at the Senegal team hotel. Following their last gasp victory over Ghana on day three, the Senegal squad decided to celebrate their
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  • first triumph at the Cup of Nations for more than five years by partying into the early hours. Defender Cheikhou Kouyaté revealed that Moussa Sow’s goal in the dying seconds had sparked the revelries. “I’m really happy,” he told the review. “It was a difficult game against a big team. But I’m happy, for me, the team and all Senegalese people.” Kouyaté plies his trade at West Ham United in the English Premier League and he appears to have soaked up the English trait for understatement. “Yes, we had a little celebration, you know, just until four o’clock …AM …..” Nice one, my son, as they might say down Upton Park way.

  • They’re staying stumm in the Ghana camp. Quite how the German word for silent crept into London gangster parlance is not going to be pursued by the review today. But, while the Senegalese have been enjoying the fruits of that Group C victory over Ghana, the Black Stars have been licking their wounds. They were in lockdown mode on day four. Their training session was closed and speculation was it would be the same case on day five.
  • They’re singing the praises of Seydou Keita. And why not? (as a famous film critic used to say in Britain.) The grand old man of Malian football played in his 100th game for his country on day four. Keita, who turned 35 on the eve of the tournament, is Mali’s most decorated footballer with 17 trophies in his cabinet. In 2009, while at Barcelona, there was a six-title haul; the Spanish championship, the Uefa Champions League, the Club World Cup, the Copa del Rey, the Uefa Super Cup and the Spanish Super Cup. In 2002 when he was in France he won the French Cup with Lorient. Essentially, all hail the man! He’s playing in his seventh Cup of Nations and sadly, for him and many a Malian, the side couldn’t give the veteran the victory in the opening Group D game against Cameroon. At least it didn’t end in defeat and there’s all to play for on day eight when Mali take on Côte d’Ivoire in Malabo.
  • There are no certainties. Côte d’Ivoire, Cameroon, Ghana and Algeria were marked as the pre-tournament favourites. None have been luminous. Côte d’Ivoire drew with Guinea, Cameroon did the same against Mali, Ghana lost to Senegal and Algeria were all over the place for a good hour in the game against South Africa before coming back to win. Conclusion? Underdogs, it’s your time to bark.
  • Zambia coach Honour Janza talks a good game. Zambia will play their second Group B match in Ebebiyin on day six against Tunisia. And Honour Janza says his players will be wary of the Tunisians. He described them as quick and eager to attack. Zambia drew their opening game against Democratic Republic of Congo 1-1. Tunisia also drew 1-1 against Cape Verde, so there’s all to play for. And his own squad? “We have the strength,” boasted Janza. “We have the young boys that can play, that can go forward. We have the speed. We have what is required in modern football: we are fast, we have good technique. We have good, skilled players. We have a balanced team. We can take any team.” Woof!

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