I’ve always been a sucker for the African Cup of Nations (or the Africa Cup of Nations as the present iteration is officially rendered, for some reason.)

It’s generally held that the football played at the ANC is of a more positive and attacking stamp than that espoused by European national teams. There’s more than a hint of the smiling native school of  ethnology about that view, but it’s not entirely erroneous. Personally, I think it has more to do with the tournament’s biennial scheduling dissipating some of the fear factor than anything else.

Anyway, tonight’s quarter final between Cameroon and champions Egypt (looking, as the twee American phrase has it, to threepeat) was interesting to say the least. The most arresting feature of the game was the corner count; 21-0 in Cameroon’s favour, in an evenly-contested match which they lost 3-1 after extra-time.

Ahmed Hassan broke Hossam Hassan’s longevity record in making his 170th appearance for Egypt, and celebrated by heading Emana’s corner into his own net. He then rattled through his own heroic cycle by equalising with a long-range shot which Kameni should have saved and making it 3-1 in extra-time with a longer-rage free-kick which Kameni did save. That evidently wasn’t the way the lino saw it, however, as he awarded a goal after the ball rebounded against the crossbar and in front of the line.

Doubtless the common sense brigade will be mobilising in force for video replays, something I’ve always opposed. It’s simply not worth jeopardising the unity of the game as played from Wuhan to Wembley for the sake of salving the outraged sensibilities of Sky viewers.

It would be remiss to invoke the ANC without mentioning the murderous assault on the convoy of the Togolese delegation, which led to its withdrawal. Callous though it sounds, I think there’s a clear case for suspending Togo’s membership of FIFA due to the fact that the team was “withdrawn” by the country’s prime minister. FIFA has strict and eminently sensible guidelines for keeping politics (or more properly, politicians) out of football and the PM’s intervention was in clear violation of these.


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