Tuesday, January 12, 2010

African Cup of Nations 2010

Ghanaian supporters at the 2008 African Cup of Nations.

This week saw the start of this year's African Cup of Nations in Angola. The return of Drogba, Essien, Toure and co back to Africa, a very enjoyable tournament but the headlines evolve around the gunmen that fired on the Togolese team on Friday. I understand this and I think it's right for journalists to cover this story and raise awareness for what is a problem in many African countries, especially with the World Cup heading to South Africa this summer. But I think to vilify the whole of Africa and suggest it isn't capable of hosting this year's World Cup is going too far.

So far the Cup of Nations has seen some exciting matches, including incredible comebacks (Angola looked home and dry in the opening match when they were leading 4-0 with 11 minutes to go, only for Mali to peg them back to draw 4-4!) Then we saw Malawi unexpectedly beat Algeria 3-0 and then minnows Burkina Faso drew 0-0 with tournament favourites Ivory Coast. The results kept coming as Egypt came from 1-0 down to beat Nigeria 3-1! So far the matches have been exciting and I expect that to continue.

Another aspect is the incredible spectacle that Angola has put on to host the tournament. The opening ceremony at the 11 de Novembre National Stadium in Luanda was spectacular and the match 4-4 draw to follow provided a great start to the tournament which it really needed following the shootings which had tarnished its image before it had begun. The fans have been fantastic so far also, producing an atmosphere full of passion which many African fans are renowned for.

I think column inches will continue to be written about the safety of holding tournaments in this part of the world for the next few weeks and even more so in the run up to the tournament. It's a shame as I think this tournament could have many more fantastic moments to remember it for but unfortunately there's only one thing people will ever remember about Angola 2010.

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