Report: Africa Cup of Nations 2015

Ghana moves ahead after Algeria defeat in day seven of CAN

Ghana's Christian Atsu challenges Algeria's Faouzi Ghoulam during their match in Mongomo on 23 January, 2015
Ghana's Christian Atsu challenges Algeria's Faouzi Ghoulam during their match in Mongomo on 23 January, 2015 Reuters/Mike Hutchings

Five things we learned from day seven.

  • We love drama. A player struck down by illness just before his country’s first match at the 30th CAN gets off his sick bed and thrashes home the only goal in a must win game. Thank you Asamoah Gyan for giving flesh to the fantasy. The 29-year-old returned from a bout of malaria and fired past Algeria keeper Adi Embohli with virtually the last kick of the game on day seven. Ghana needed three points against Algeria to relaunch their Cup of nations campaign. Cometh the hour …cometh the Gyan. Ghana, all frantic and forlorn after the opening day defeat to Senegal, is now happy and hunting a place in the last eight for the fifth consecutive tournament.
  • It’s quite rare to have such symmetry. Ghana lost with virtually the last kick of the game against Senegal. And beat Algeria in the same fashion. Whatever happened to a good old winner in the 57th minute?
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  • So are legends born. If Ghana do go on to win the Cup of Nations, a few moments will be logged as the turning points in the myth. The decision to play an ailing Asamoah Gyan is one. Others will be the decision of coach Avram Grant to replace fully fit attackers Jordan and André Ayew with Mahatma Otoo and Solomon Asante respectively. Not logical really, but effective.
  • Algeria appear to be bogged down by the pitch of expectation. Three points from two games and Algeria aren’t really shining as brightly as was anticipated. Big things are wanted. After all, they are Africa’s top team in the FIFA world rankings. But status counts for nothing. The higher you are the further you fall etc etc. Algeria got lucky against South Africa who really should have beaten them and were unfortunate to lose against Ghana. In both games Algeria coach Christian Gourcuff said the state of the playing surface at the Estadio Mongomo affected their passing game. Senegal is a must win affair for Algeria on Tuesday. That will unfold in Malabo. Gourcuff said after the loss to Ghana that the pitch in the capital suits their game better. Hostage to fortune, methinks. If Algeria draw, Senegal will advance to the last eight and the North Africans could be pipped by Ghana if they overcome South Africa.
  • It’s permutation time. Nothing is more exciting than wondering who can do what and what must happen to whom. Day eight will be the final batch of the second round of games in the groups. No one has yet qualified outright for the last eight. It’s all to play for. It must be nerve racking for the coaches and players but it’s excellent for the neutrals. Adds spice to the drama.

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