Month: January 2017

Afcon 2017: And Then There Were Four

Over the weekend the remaining eight teams in the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations battled for their spot in the semi-finals of the competition. After Sunday the four teams remaining included Ghana, Egypt, Burkina Faso and Cameroon. Their advancement in the tournament came at the expense of Senegal, Morocco, Tunisia and DR Congo. On Saturday Burkina Faso overcame a disappointed Tunisia side 2-0.  Burkina Faso were able to keep the rampant Tunisians scoreless.  After scoring six in their last two matches at Afcon, they couldn’t seem to find the back of the net this time around. Two late goals from Burkina Faso were enough to see them through to the semi-finals of the competition.  Aristide Bance provided the winner in the 81st minute after a beautiful set-piece play that found him drilling a ball hard and low into the corner of the goal from outside the 18-yard box. Just three minutes later they had their cushion.  It was the prolific Prejuce Nakoulma who cemented Burkina Faso’s place in the semi-finals. Shortly after Burkina Faso were through, Cameroon and Senegal found themselves in a penalty shootout.  After failing to take any of their chances in normal and extra time, Senegal were forced to suffer as they were defeated 4-5 in penalty kicks. It all came down to Africa’s most expensive player: Sadio Mane.  Unfortunately for Mane he won’t be forgetting...

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Group C: Holders Ivory Coast Crumble Under Pressure

The Ivory Coast fell to Morocco 1-0 on Tuesday in a game they needed to win to keep their tournament hopes alive. The 2015 Africa Cup of Nations champions went winless in the group stage drawing twice before allowing Morocco to finish above them in second place. It was an extremely poor showing from The Elephants who lacked urgency in their play.  Throughout 90 minutes they created only two significant chances.  One, when Wilfried Zaha’s effort from 12 yards went straight at the goalkeeper, and two, when Salomon Kalou found his header just clipping the outside of the post. Morocco frustrated the Ivory Coast with their play.  Knowing that a draw would likely see them through, Morocco stayed compact defensively and only attacked on the counter. In fact, it was on the counter that they found their exquisite go-ahead goal in the 64th minute.  Forward Rachid Alioui found himself all alone in the center of the Ivory Coast’s half with only one defender in front of him.  Instead of beating the defender with skill, and just when more defenders were getting back to help, he sent an absolute curler from 25-yards out into the right side of the goal. After going behind, The Elephants still couldn’t get much going on the offensive front, and when the referee blew the final whistle Morocco deservedly secured their spot in the knockout stages. Junior Kabananga became the...

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Group B: Tunisia Run Riot as They Qualify for Knockout Stage

On what was probably the most exciting day of matches yet in the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations, Tunisia scored four goals in the first half as they defeated bottom of the table Zimbabwe 4-2. The victory means they finish second in Group B above Algeria and Zimbabwe, who are both eliminated. Naim Sliti, Youssef Msakni and Taha Khenissi notched one each for Tunisia within 36 minutes. Shortly after, Zimbabwe was able to pull one back through Knowledge Musona cutting the Tunisian’s lead to two, but the Tunisians restored their three-goal cushion just before halftime. A penalty was given to Tunisia in the 44th minute when Khenissi was pushed from behind by Zimbabwe defender Costa Nhamoinesu.  Sunderland midfielder Wahbi Khazri stepped up to the spot and just managed to slot the ball past the goalkeeper’s outstretched hand. A little after 10 minutes into the first half Zimbabwe were given a lifeline through substitute Tendai Ndoro. Musona, who was Zimbabwe’s brightest star in the competition, was involved again as he provided the through ball that Ndoro was able to latch onto and comfortably finish. Chances were sparse for Zimbabwe throughout the remainder of the match with Tunisia probably the side who should have scored again. The other of the two simultaneous matches saw Algeria’s hopes of reaching the knockout stages shatter when they drew Senegal 2-2. Despite the Senegalese side...

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Group A: Hosts Gabon Eliminated

After drawing their third group stage match in a row, tournament hosts Gabon have been eliminated from the competition.  They become only the fourth host team in the tournament’s history to bow out in the group stage.  Tunisia were the most recent in 1994. It was clear to the Gabonese squad that this game against Cameroon was a must win, but they just could not seem to finish any of their chances with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Denis Bouanga coming closest. Aubameyang will be having nightmares about not converting on what was Gabon’s best chance.  The Borussia Dortmund striker missed a tap-in that we would normally see him finish with ease.  Bouanga hit the post just before full time leaving him and the rest of the squad to believe that it just wasn’t going to be their day in front of net. Cameroon didn’t see many chances themselves but did enough defensively to secure themselves a point in order to move on to the knockout stage. Burkina Faso were the big victors on the day.  A 2-0 victory over Guinea-Bissau gave them a first place finish in Group A. An early own goal from Guinea-Bissau defender Rudinilson Silva got the underdogs off to a terrible start. Despite the own goal, Guinea-Bissau had plenty of chances to equalize.  They had 55% possession throughout the game and had double the amount of shots that...

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Trump: “Close The Open Hand Out Of Love”

President-elect Trump’s appointment of David Friedman (known for his support of the settlements) to be the US ambassador to Israel, his appointment of Walid Phares (a Maronite Christian known for his pro-Israel track record and distaste for the Palestinians) as his Middle East advisor, and charging his son-in-law Jared Kushner (who is a staunch supporter of Israel and was recently appointed as Senior Advisor to the President) to take the lead in the search for a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, all suggest there could be a major change in US policy toward the conflict. These appointments, coupled with...

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