ZAMBIA AND CONGO DR SHARE THE SPOILS
Zambia and Congo DR started their 2015 Orange Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) campaigns with a 1-1 draw at Estadio de Ebebiyin.
The 2012 champions took the lead in only the second minute of the clash after a poor judgment from Kidiaba in goal for Congo allowed Given Singuluma to smash in the opener.
Another mistake from the other end this time from Zambia goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene almost led to an equaliser but striker Dieumerci Mbokani shot flew over the bar from close range.
Congo DR finally levelled the score line in the 66th minute as Crystal Palace winger Yannick Bolasie opened his account in the competition.
A loose ball from the edge of the Zambia area found the winger who wasted no time to draw his side level.
Zambia: Mweene, Nkausu, Mbola, Mtonga, Sunzu, Sinkala, Singuluma, Lungu, Kalaba, Kampamba, Mayuka
Congo DR: Muteba, Djos, Kilichio, Mulumbu, Kage, Bezua, Bolasie, Mpela, Mongongu, Ndombe, Mbemba
TUNISIA HELD BY CAPE VERDE
Tunisia took the lead in the 70th minute when Mohamed Ali Moncer turned home a low left-sided cross from six-yards out.
Cape Verde were given a lifeline in the 77th minute when Heldon Nhuck was brought down inside the box by Syam Ben Youssef and the referee wasted no time to point to the penalty spot.
Heldon Nhuck stepped up and made no mistake from the spot.
Tunisia: Mathlouthi, Maaloul, Abdennour, Youssef, Mathlouthi, Khazri, Moncer, Nater, Saihi, Akaichi, Chikhaoui.
Cape Verde: Vozinha, Varela, Gege, Carlitos, Stopira, Babanco, Calu, Kuca, Rocha, Nhuck, Djaniny
DAY 3 FIXTURES
Ghana v Senegal
Algeria v South Africa
MASHABA READY FOR TOUGH ALGERIA TEST
South Africa coach, Shakes Mashaba, is ready for their Orange Africa Cup of Nations Group C opener against Algeria.
Since taking over the job in July 2014, Mashaba has enjoyed an unbeaten run in his second spell in charge of Bafana Bafana.
He has won five and drawn four, and his team come into the tournament high on confidence.
South Africa are in the proverbial Group of Death with Algeria, Senegal and Ghana, but Mashaba is unperturbed.
“As I have already said, we inherited a very difficult group,” he said.
“We will play Algeria, which is currently number one in Africa. They have very good players. The 16 teams expect and want to win their first game of the tournament, that’s for sure. If we win the first, there is less pressure.
“We know that the first game of a competition such as AFCON is never easy. No one can predict what will happen. In any case, we are ready to give everything on the field to snatch a good result. We know that they are a dangerous team and they have many strengths.
“From our side, we are prepared to counter it. Personally, I prefer to speak of my team who also holds strong points. We know what Algeria can do in a game, but the truth today may not be tomorrow’s. In one game, anything can happen.”
SENEGAL HAVE AMBITION TO WIN AFCON, SAYS GIRESSE
Senegal coach, Alain Giresse, has said that his team’s ambition in the Orange Africa Cup of Nations is to get their hands on the continental crown.
The former French international was speaking ahead of his team’s opening Group C game with Ghana.
“We have ambition and want to put in good performances but only what happens on the field will decide how far we can go,” Giresse said.
Senegal are desperate to impress after losing all three games in the group stage in 2012 and then failing to qualify for the 2013 finals.
However, they will also come up against South Africa and Algeria in a section that could hardly have been more challenging for the Lions of Teranga.
“It has been described as the most difficult group. There are three teams who finished top of their (qualifying) group, and two who were at the FIFA World Cup. Ghana are one of the best teams on the continent, that’s the way it is at every CAN.
“The Ghanaians did well at the last World Cup and they almost reached the semi-finals in 2010. Their current team are among the favourites, although recently the favourites have not won the CAN. It is a strange competition, different to the World Cup where it is often the favourites who are there at the end.”
Meanwhile, Giresse said that the Senegalese delegation was pleasantly surprised with the facilities they have found in Mongomo amid widespread concerns about inadequate accommodation.
“We are adapting to the conditions that are absolutely fine, from the accommodation to the training facilities. We were worried after our first visit here, but we have been reassured since our arrival this time.”
AYEW: WE ARE NOT TITLE FAVOURITES
Ghana star, Andre Ayew, claimed that the Black Stars “are not here to win the trophy” ahead of their opening Orange Africa Cup of Nations game against Senegal on Monday.
Ghana have been continental champions four times but since 1982 they have not won the trophy although they have reached at least the semi-finals in each of the last four tournaments.
“We have lots of young players and I wouldn’t say we are here to win the trophy. We’ll go one game at a time,” Ayew said.
“In 2010 we got to the final not long after winning the FIFA U-20 World Cup, we went into the tournament full of confidence.”
The son of soccer legend, Abedi Pele, also spoke of the disastrous 2014 World Cup the team had.
“We did some good things on the pitch and caused problems for the eventual world champions. Of course there were things that happened off the field, but that is behind us now. We have come through the qualifiers since then and I congratulate all the players for the way they have applied themselves.
“The situation is different to when we were in Brazil. We have changed coach several times in the last six months, but we are all professionals and we need to be able to adapt to the situation,” he said.
WE HAVE FIRE IN OUR EYES, SAYS BAFANA’S NGCONGCA
Bafana Bafana defender, Anele Ngcongca, says his teammates have fire in their eyes and he believes that despite South Africa not having big name players plying their trade in the European leagues, they will compete for the trophy in Equatorial Guinea.
South Africa open their 2015 Orange Africa Cup of Nations campaign against Algeria, the number one-ranked nation on the continent but the defender says they are up for the task.
“Despite that the guys have done very well. If you look at the qualifiers you can see that we have a good squad even though they don’t play in the big leagues around the world,” he said.
“We faced Nigerian stars like Obi Mikel and company and managed to come out with the points so we are not worried about where the opposition plays. What matters is what happens on the day.
“The confidence and team spirit is very high, we just want to go out there and prove to the continent that South Africa has the talent. I believe with what we did in the qualifiers we can compete with those big name stars.
“Every player that is here is quality. From what I have seen at training and the warm-up matches we played recently, I believe we can hold our own against the much-fancied Algeria. We are all aware that for the two teams it’s a crucial game and both want to start well.
“The squad that we have now has got fire in their eyes and the energy they have is unbelievable. We are all looking forward to this tournament and I think we can surprise a lot of teams.”
MBIA: ETO’O A HUGE MISS FOR CAMEROON
Cameroon captain, Stephane Mbia, has revealed that the absence of Samuel Eto’o from this year’s Orange Africa Cup of Nations is a blow for the whole continent.
As the Indomitable Lions prepare for their opening game, Mbia is already missing the presence of the soccer legend.
“He is a great player who we will really miss. Certain people didn’t like the way he was but he is a good guy. He will be hugely missed as a person,” Mbia said.
“I think he could have continued but he decided to stop and it was disappointing for Africa as a whole and Cameroon too, to lose a great player like Samuel Eto’o.”
The four-time African player of the year, now 33, has enjoyed a glittering career, winning the UEFA Champions League three times and was part of the Cameroon sides that lifted the AFCON in 2000 and 2002.
The Indomitable Lions have not won the continental title since, coming closest in 2008 when they were beaten by Egypt in the final.
GYAN SUFFERING WITH MALARIA
Ghana captain, Asamoah Gyan, has been diagnosed with malaria and they could be without him for Monday’s clash against Senegal.
The Black Stars get their AFCON campaign under way against Group C opponents Senegal in Mongomo, with Gyan’s health still being monitored, having spent much of Saturday in hospital.
The Al Ain striker Gyan was released on Sunday and is “responding well” to treatment, according to a statement from the Ghana Football Association.
“The illness was detected at an early stage and Gyan is responding well to treatment,” read a section of the statement.
“Doctors will continue to monitor his progress ahead of the Black Stars opening Group C match against Senegal in Mongomo.”