Africa Cup of Nations: Five things we learned on Day 17

·3-min read

The inquiries have been launched into the tragedy at the Olembé Stadium before the game between Cameroon and Comoros. Answers have been demanded by the end of week.

It just happened here

It's always been something of a meta experience, the Cup of Nations. Things occur at the tournament that really don't belong in the normal realm. The review remembers the insistence of the organisers on playing in 2010 in the Angolan enclave of Cabinda. Separatists attacked the Togo team buses and killed three people. Helicopter gunships circled above the stadium ahead of matches. ??? Oh, OK, it's the Africa Cup of Nations. Lunacy. Fast forward 12 years and separatists have threatened violence on teams and games taking place in the English speaking regions of Cameroon. And yet the show goes on because we've been assured of security. Right. So where was it on Monday night?

Open goal ...

Cheerleaders of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa raved about "world-class" organisation and "world-class" facilties as a way of countering the negative narratives about African ineptitude. And indeed, the review had a world class time during the tournament. And the phrase cropped up a couple of times on Day 17 as Patrice Motsepe, the head of African football's governing body, Caf, talked about the Cup of Nations and the response to the Olembé tragedy. Since arriving for Cup of Nations, it has become clear to the review that the organisers have missed a very big open goal - ironic since star striker Samuel Eto'o is one of the big noises on the Cameroon football scene. As newly anointed chief of the Cameroon football association, he chafed at the idea that the Cup of Nations shouldn't be held because of the coronavirus pandemic - no one said that of last summer's European championships was his general thrust. This tournament then was the chance to confound the critics and the naysayers and establish "universal class". A template for the rest. Yet, what we have is antediluvean shoddiness and at least eight lost souls and dozens of shattered lives.

Mark of respect

Patrice Motsepe made a smart move by ordering the quarter-final scheduled for the Olembé Stadium on Sunday afternoon to be switched across town to the Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium. That idea will have to be given the green light by a committee on Day 18. The proposal for a minute of silence before Day 17's matches needed no such bureaucratic formalitie. The mark of respect was scrupulously observed before both games..

And they play on

Senegal saw off Cape Verde in a terrific game in which Cape Verde had two men sent off. The second red card was surreal. Long ball over the top, Sadio Mané gives chase and goalkeeper Vozinha comes out of his box and their heads collide. Both end up on the deck. Vozinha is ordered off and is eventually stretchered away. Mané remains lucid enough for a few minutes to score Senegal's first goal before he goes all queasy and wobbles off. Senegal to play either Equatorial Guinea or Mali in the last eight.

Morocco roll

The Malawi team - playing at the Cup of Nations for the first time since the Angola experience we were talking about earlier - took the lead in the seventh minute against Morocco with a cracker of a strike. And after that Morocco besieged the Malawi goal. It was great stuff: brilliant saves, near misses and last gasp tackles. Morocco levelled just before half-time and a wonderful free-kick from Achraf Hakimi in the seond-half sealed their berth in the quarter-final. Next up Egypt or Cote D'Ivoire.

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