So Ghana could not even get past Mali for the third spot? Is it the beginning of a downward trend for the Black stars? I don’t want to imagine that the team that shook the whole world in 2010 by producing a stellar performance at the World Cup could just award Accra with a fourth place finish, amidst all the hopes the country had on them, or is it a case of the country just expecting too much? I highly doubt, but for a team that has so far amassed three red cards in just one tournament, their overall discipline leaves a lot to be desired and a bitter taste in the mouth of the team.
Take nothing away from Mali, they were unlucky to have lost to Ivory Coast but that didn’t their spirits and they proved to the whole continent why in 2013 they are also a team to look out for. They made their numerical strength really count after the Ghana red card and were awarded with a second via a Diabate tap in. Most of you would agree with me that Ghana were so dispirited despite Muntari’s countless balls that found no one to bury them. Heads buried they head back to Accra, lots of explanation to be done. Bamako on the other hand, will be looking forward to the return of their heroes, albeit without the trophy, but they can have the consolation that South Africa should watch out for them next year and that they fell out to worthy opposition.
Envying Libreville in all ways, tonight they host the best of the best in the final of the AFCON. Ivory Coast my pick for the winners medals and the trophy would be battling it out with Zambia the one I love to hate but now forced to love, having to imagine what could have happened to Ghana had they reached the final. As seen in their semi-final match against Ghana, the Copper Bullets are able to withstand pressure, beat you on the counter and even via set piece situations. Katongo and Co are the masterminds in chief against a star studded Ivory Coast side who so far have not conceded a single goal in this tournament.
Zambia are driven by a strong compelling mission of honouring the memory of its players who died in a plane crash 19 years ago, on the other hand, the Elephants want to do it for its senior players and for their country that has experienced war in a long time. Ivory Coast has to learn to respect every opponent before they fall the Ghana way, something I would not love to see. Zambia, the underdogs by all standards are capable of pulling a surprise and when the two different styles of football meet this evening, breath-taking action, drama and goals are what to expect. Sad news for Zambia on the other hand is that Senegal are reportedly closing on hiring their coach after the tournament but for now, that will have to wait till the final whistle.
For the winner, a hefty pay cheque awaits them and the glory of being Africa’s best even if for just a year is immeasurable. Pressure will be on both sides and whoever will handle the pressure perfectly will be crowned Africa’s champions. In my eyes, Ivory Coast should lift the title, Zambia maybe got to wait till another time, not that they are not good, but I feel they are not that good to beat the Elephants. This gives room to another school of thought, what if Zambia win? I think Ivory Coast shall have failed and would not be better than the others who fell by the way side. Football is sometimes so cruel, the winner takes it all, and tonight the winner will take it all, and despite the result, a story of African football shall have been written again. For Zambia it will be that of Determination, team spirit and defying the odds, for Ivory Coast, it will be that of, Teamwork, Class and Unity.