African Nations Cup Debate: Where Did It All Go Wrong For The Favourites?

The pre-tournament hypes failed to live up to expectations as looks at where it went wrong for them.

Ivory Coast

The Ivory Coast were hugely tipped to win this year’s tournament, considering the array of stars they paraded in their team. The likes of Didier Drogba, Salomon Kalou, Gervinho, Didier Zokora, Yaya and Kolo Toure and Emmanuel Eboue made them look like every pundit’s favourite to lift the trophy. Like many times before, the Ivoirians were overrated and they let their fans down losing 3-2 to Algeria in the quarter finals. The Elephants have now officially become the most hyped team in Africa with nothing to show for their golden generation of players.


Five time champions Cameroon have now been eliminated by Egypt in two straight tournaments. This year’s quarter final loss will be seen by many Cameroonian fans as a disappointing run from the Indomitable Lions who boast the likes of Samuel Eto'o, Alexandre Song and Achille Webo in their team. The Lions suffered a first round defeat in the hands of Gabon and only managed a win over Zambia before getting the draw that saw them through into the knockout stages against Tunisia. Their performances in the tournament were erratic with their backline giving them the most problems; bungling, old and tired defenders and an incapable goalkeeper.   


If Nigerian fans expected their team to win this tournament, then they must have been asking for too much from a side that was not at their best during qualifying. The Super Eagles continued their uninspiring run losing 3-1 to Egypt in their first game. They edged out Benin by a lone goal before cruising past Mozambique 3-0. Osaze Odemwingie, Chinedu Obasi and Obafemi Martins seemed to give life to their attack sometimes but against Zambia in the quarter finals they showed lack of imagination and allowed their opponents to run them round and over before eventually wining via penalties. Their luck ran out in the semi final where they could not find a way to break down Ghana’s defence due to poor finishing in what was their best game of the tournament. They met their waterloo courtesy of a lone strike from the head of Asamoah Gyan.


The Eagles of Mali are another of the teams that failed to fly in Angola even with all the stars that they had. Many times before, the Malians had been unable to perform on the big stage and this tournament was no exception. With a midfield consisting of Seydou Keita, Mahamadou Diarra, Momo Sissoko as well as the attacking prowess of Frederic Kanoute, Mali failed to live up to the expectations of many after their stunning 4-4 draw against hosts Angola in the opening game. The Eagles lost their second match 1-0 to Algeria before beating Malawi 3-1 but it was not enough to see them through to the next round as their head-to-head with Algeria saw them fall out once again in the first round.


The Palancas Negras as hosts of the tournament were expected to present a formidable side capable of winning the tournament on home soil. They began the competition on a good note going four ahead of Mali before losing concentration and allowing the Malians to get back in the game and salvage a draw. A 2-0 win over Malawi and a goalless draw with Algeria saw them through into the quarter finals where they lost 1-0 to a young Ghana side, effectively breaking the streak of host nations getting to at least the semi final since 1996.


World Cup-bound Algeria struggled in the first round but showed courage and determination to edge out the Ivory Coast 3-2 in the quarter final. When they needed to show class against arch-rivals Egypt they faltered, allowing indiscipline to get the better of them. Three red cards and four goals down, the Algerians ended their run in the tournament on a sour note.

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