|AFRICAN CUP OF NATIONS 1998|
|THE QUALIFICATION||BEFORE THE FINALS||THE FINALS: MATCH DISCRIPTIONS||AFTER THE FINALS: THE REVIEWS|
|TEAM PORTRAITS||FINAL+3rd PLACE||TOURNAMENT REVIEW|
|PREVIEWS:TEAMS AND TOURNAMENT||SEMI-FINALS||QUARTER-FINALS||REVIEWS:THE TEAMS PERFORMANCES|
|THIS WAS THE NEWS TICKER ATTEMPT|
|this is a component of||THE SHOT THAT PASSED RIGHT THROUGH THE NET|
|Burkina Faso||Ghana||South Africa||Zambia|
|table after winning-percentage-available next update|
with the 3rd place play-off match taken into account:
6 matches played: 2 wins, 2 ties, 2 losses
It seems to have been the handwriting of Phillip Troussier who added
organisation and beleif to the inspiration of the Burkinabé game.
Suddenly the team, that had altered a few exciting attacking moments with
confused defending in the past, became competitive. An excited crowd and
friendly refereeing in first round added momentum to their performance
and helped Burkina Faso to win their first two matches in African Nations
Cup finals history. The team rewarded the football fans with the arguably
most exciting match of the tournament: the third place play-off which they
seemed to have won in exciting manor 4:1 three minutes before the end.
But suddenly they lost all they had learned and allowed DR Congo an unbelievable
comeback to make it a 4:4 and win the third place in penalty shoot-out.
So Burkina Faso finished fourth but proud of an achievement few had expected
before the tournament.
Cameroon proved that the individual players made progresses during the
last years and are stronger than 1994 and 1996. But Cameroon relied on
the individual effort. Against teams like Burkina Faso, Guinea and Congo
who made huge progresses in developing the team effort in addition to individual
skills, the Cameroonian individuals talent sooner or later had to show
itself as insufficient to win the tournament alone. Cameroon has to improve
the aspect of cooperation as the tournament has shown that some teams of
the second row have increased their levels this way. The team, regarding
the players alone, should be strong enough to be competitive at France
but there are always rumours around the Cameroonian bench and officials.
A good preperation will be important but coach Jean Manga Onguene, a former
international player, seemed to be already under pressure during the Nations
Cup. The change in the goalkeepers position from Songo'o to Vincent Ongandzi
and the rumoured involvement of Roger Milla will add more discussions.
Ongandzi did not look good when DR Congo scored the decisive goal in quarter
finals that send Cameroon home. Anyway Cameroon did not look desolate and
achieved a positive winning-percentage so they should not see the tournament
Algeria looked quite weak. They played North African football but a
team that does neither excite nor win, often is critisized badly. But there
are some explainations: The state of Algerian football on administrative
level is said to be bad as the whole atmosphere in the crisis-shooked country
should not good either. Guinea was a strong opponent and after acting carefully
an 'unexpected' penalty punished the Algerians against hosts Burkina Faso.
Before the final encounter with Cameroon Algeria already was out of the
tournament and played a decent match at least in first half. They did not
lose a match by more than one goal so they are definitively above a team
such as Mozambique. And they played in a strong group. Nevertheless they
leave an impression of a deterioated power.
Guinea were unlucky and they were the victims of refereeing when
in the decisive match Pablo Thiam was sent off early for nothing. Then
they became victims of the constellation that they had to defend a 0:0
and so acted defensive with one man less. This took away most of the abilities
they were able to show in the first two matches. It came as it does often:
Burkina Faso scored the goal anyway and it was almost too late to answer.
But even with a man less and only five minutes time Guinea displayed their
dangerous potential pushed forwared by Mohamed Camara of Le Havre. It is
tough luck for them because Guinea really looked like a team capable to
reach at least the semi-finals having had improved on various aspects.
Ghana saw themselves as the winners of the Nations Cup after the first
match in which they convincingly beat Tunisia 2:0 after a hard fight. But
they did not play concentrated enough against Togo whom they allowed a
solo-run goal to win it in the final seconds despite dominating the match
obviosly concious of being the 'superior team'. In the final match Ghana
looked passive or paralysed aware of the situation they had to defend a
0-0 to advance. And like in the Burkina Faso-Guinea match finally the team
that had to, scored and it was not much time left. So finally Ghana had
not been able to beat one of their West-African or Central-African rivals
and so deserved to be sent home. Their goalkeeper did not look like a backbone,
there had been many inaccurate shots, and Ghanas game a bit like Cameroon
seemed dominated by individual strength.
Ghanas failure to convert talent into result adds to a list that should be investigated on. As older the level of competition (U17, U20, U23, adults) as worse get the results. Brazil once rebuild their style after having failed for 20 years by redesigning it upon a Brazilian interpreted European foundation of the game. Finally they won the World Cup 1994 and are dominant world football power again. Burkina Faso played a bit in this Euroapean-African attitude.Whether such alone can be an easy solution has to be doubted. There must be a bunch of reasons for Ghanaian problems. Unlucky performances altered with disappointing ones although Ghanaian players play in good European clubs and unlike some examples from other countries most of them are fielded regularly. Abedi Pele has resigned (before the defeat). Lets see what the new generation on their own can achieve. The players that impressed at World Youth championchips are now completely in charge. And there are no alibis anymore.
Tunisia was critisized for playing a disppointing football. But such
criticism seems too harsh. Of course, in Nations Cup 1996 they arrived
as the failures of 1994 and surprised by finshing second. So this time
they arrived as vice-champions and qualified World Cup finalists and so
their performance was seen from a different point of view. Of course, analysis
is filtered by the impression that the results have left. The same shot
can be attached positive and negative attributes in the same moment. So
let's try to compare. And if you want to see it the other way the difference
was not so big. Tunisian football at both finals was based on a solid defence
and a few dangerous attackers that smartly tried to profit from single
errors in the opponents defences. It means keep the match even and benefit
from particular moments. Those can be standards as well. Here in 1996 Tunisia
had Ben Rhikassa who unfortunately died on the pitch later and who was
a strong defender and dangerous at free kicks upfront. He was very strong
in the heading game and was obviously missing in Tunisian defence as well
when displaying surprising weeknesses in the air.
Nevertheless the Tunisian strategy worked out quite well apart from the Ghana match in which Ghana just was too strong. Like South Africa had been 1996. And a totaly even quarter-finals match Tunisia had also 1996 against Gabon, but then they had been lucky to win the penalty shoot-out they lost this time. So - not much difference. Not much difference? This can be called the problem: Tunisia did not look like they have improved. This is alarming because 1) others did and 2) at 1996 Olympics their style did not seem sufficient to beat teams of levels of same concentration and few errors (like Ghana in the encounter this time). But Zoubeir Beya finally at least suggested what he is able to do in quarter-finals when he came on for second half. The question is whether Ben Slimane, whose fights with opponents sometimes looked a bit dirty, can be replaced if he gets injured and what is with Adel Sellimi of Nantes. Tunisia will need to add some talent to solidity if it wants to win a match at France.
Togo was unhappy with refereeing in their first match against DR Congo
to whom they lost by the help of controversial penalties. But seeming harmless
they were able to surprise Ghana in a disciplined match. Against Tunisia
Togo seemed confused by their own blitz start and found themselves back
1:2 after 9 minutes. They came close to a 2:2 but finally Tunisia was able
to decide the match by their counterplay. Togo was lucky against Ghana
when one of their few attacking attempts decided the match in injury time
but in the other two matches Togo displayed attacking potential as well.
A decent performance but no chance to win the tournament.
with the 3rd place play-off match taken into account:
6 matches played: 3 wins, 1 tie, 2 losses (matches decided in penalty shoot-outs count as ties)
winning percentage: 0.583 (if you counted the South Africa match that was decided in extra-time as tie, it is 0.667)
DR Congo was the cinderella team of this Nations Cup. They came as a bunch of mostly young and home based players. The past of the country a´was civil war and the past of the National team quite disappointing performances. The support by the administration for the team was minimal and so some professionals from Europe were left out. Now their defeats of Cameroon and Ghana were remarkable and backed by a disciplinary performance and a good level of organisation and cooperation. The young players have promising talent and if the team stays together like this it has a future and might return to this level. Remarkably the belief and comeback in third place playoff match. But DR Congo was not giant yet. They were not superior to Togo, weak spots were detected by Tunisia and they were taken apart by Burkina Faso at some stages of the match. In the match against Ghana they profotet from Ghanaian legarthy and in both matches against Ghana and Cameroon they outplayed better individuals by their organisation and cooperative elements. But this belongs to football and the team as well as the single individuals have still room to develop. Not only the surprising third place should have been a great thing for Congolese fans in troubled times, it is the hope this promising team gives for the future.
South Africa was thoroughly watched by the experts alarmed by all crisis
signs that accompanied the national team in the recent past. But the team
proved to be better than thought, especially because Benedict McCarthy
emerged as a future superstar. Their cooperational abilities can still
get promoted. South Africa switched between phases when recovering and
phases when attacking dangerously. If this was intended this ability makes
them a dangerous team for tournaments played in heat conditions.
Goalkeepers Brian Baloyi and Simon Gopane, Quinton Fortune, Pollen Ndlanya,
Brendan Augustine, David Hyathi, Brendan Silent, John Moeti, Andrew Rabutla
- some names the world has to learn for the finals at France. The face
of the South African squad has changed but a team has still to grow. In
the finals against Egypt by no way they had a chance. There seemed to be
a level between the team that was concentrated, determined to show their
best and a team that wanted to win it just by talent. Phillippe Troussier
could form them a competitive team for France but South Africa is not Burkina
Faso. First of all it is English not French speaking. And secondly the
country has not completely overcome its past. Replacing the succesful black
Jomo Sono by the white Phillippe Troussier has awoken some ressentiments
and already voices could be heard announcing troubles. Set back players
will ride this argument, disagreeing journalists will do as well. It will
be a tough job for the 'sorcier blanc'.
Zambia had claimed to be drawn into a 'group of death' and this has
proved right for them. Their whole campaign was spoiled by the Egypt match,
when they were taken apart 4:0 by the later cup winners. After the match
coach Burkardt Ziese was suspended but up to now it seems unclear whether
the coach or the complete national team or both will be replaced. A tough
decision for the Zambian Football Association because youth football is
said to have been neglected recently. The Zambian performance looked like
the team consisted of one player two levels higher than all others and
a deterioated rest. Kalusha Bwalya played outstanding and would have deserved
a team like Egypt to back his game and win the cup he deserved for his
achievement. but like Abedi Pele he announced retirement before heading
home with empty hands again. He might be back but if, then only for big
tournaments. He plays at Mexico and travelling is too much. Zambia did
not improve while others did, they even made some steps back. So they are
now still among the top 10, top 16 of Africa, but where will they be without
Egypt was the best team and deserved to win. They were almost perfect in all aspects. Their game was based on a solid defence. They had practised special situations (penalty shoot out against Côte d'Ivoire, the sensational free kick trick against South Africa in the finals). And they were able to establish exciting counter-attacks exposing all weaknesses of their opponents. Their goalgetter Hossam Hassan was not only a brilliant scorer, he also perfectly cooperated and such was able to set up opportunities and goals. Their one-touch combinations worked perfect and their cat and mouse play before the 2:0 against the Burkinabé offside attempts in the semi-finals should remain as a legendary example. As any great team they were not invincible: Against Morocco they did not have to win, played most of the match with 10 men on the field and saw were completely drawn back in the second half. In the last minute they were beaten by the beautiful bycicle kick by Mustapha Hadji. In the quarter finals they encountered an even opponent. But it was still Egypt who had the most dangerous situation in a match that could be headlined with 'waiting for the shoot-out'. Sure of their penalty abilities, backed by a strong goalkeeper they won and in the remaining matches they were a class ahead leaving the impression that Burkina Faso was still stronger than South Africa who had no chance at all. Real champions.
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