Super Eagles of Nigeria Did Not Contribute Any “BAD BOY” At AFCON,  Train Moves To Morocco Next Year

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By Eniola Olatunji

The 34th African Cup of Nations (AFCON) was concluded on Sunday 11th February 2024, with 119 goals which are 2.29 goals per match and a total 1,109,593 fans which is an average of 12,338 fans watching each of the 52 matches played in the tournament.

Emilio Nsue of Equatorial Guinea took home the Golden Boot for the highest scorer with 5 goals; Gelson Dala of Angola got the Silver Boot with 4 goals and Mostafa Mohammed of Egypt who also had 4 goals got the Bronze Boot.

Four players scored own goals in the tournament namely Edmond Tapsoba of Burkina Faso against Mali; Estebean Obiang of Equatorial Guinea against Guinea Bissau; James Gomez of Gambia against Cameroon and Opa Sangante of Guinea Bissau against Nigeria.

There were 168 yellow cards or 3.2 yellow cards per match and 13 red cards flashed at the tournament. Eventual winners, Cote D’Ivoire got the highest number of yellows which is a caution in football matches having 14; Burkina Faso and Nigeria were next with 11 yellows each while Algeria and Ghana had 9 cards each. Cote D’Ivoire alone had two of the 13 red cards but Nigeria did not contribute a “BAD BOY” as we call players with red cards.

Two Ivorien players had the highest number of 3 yellow cards each Christian Koname and Serge Aurier; three fellows got 2 yellow cards each namely Julian Jeanvier of Guinea, Abdou Diallo of Senegal and Alexander Djiku of Ghana. Nigerian Coach Jose Peseiro got a yellow in the finals.

Notable “BAD BOYS” with red cards are Adilso Neblu of Angola; Ebrima Adams of Gambia; Francois Kamano of Guinea; Frederico Bicoro of Equatorial Guinea and Grant Kekona of South Africa.

Angola was reckoned to have the Best attack squad in the tournament with 39 shots at goal and 23 on target. Worst defence was the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon; the team had 8 goals scored by them with 20 shots at goal and only 8 on target.

On shots attempted, South Africa had the highest with 63 shots at goal and 35 on target; DR Congo had 60 shots at goal with 20 on target; Ivory Coast had 56 shots at goal with 21 on target and Nigeria had 50 shots at goal with 20 on target.

Nigeria emerged the roughest team at the African mundial with 114 foul calls; Mali was next with 91; Cape Verde had 78 each with South Africa and Guinea had 77.

Nigeria was so desperate for goals to record the highest times caught offside – 17; South Africa – 11; Namibia – 11; Cape Verde – 10 and Burkina Faso – 9.

Incidentally the good ball holders (ball possession) went home early as Algeria had 69%; Cameroon and Ivory Coast had 61% each; Mali had 58% and Egypt had 57%. Teams that can hold the ball are said to be in dominance of their games and can or should plan better.

It was stunning to soccer pundits that CAF would award the FAIR PLAY TROPHY to South Africa that is one of the top teams with rough tackles though they had no red card.

Mamelodi Sundowns Goalkeeper and Captatain of South Africa, Ronwen Williams beat Stanley Bobo Nwabali of Nigeria to win the Golden Gloves for Best Goalkeeper. Williams saved 4 penalty shots in a single match at the tournament to equal the record of former Nigerian Goal tender, Vincent Enyama.

Nigeria’s stand in Captain William Troost-Ekong of PAOK of Greece was PLAYER OF THE TOURNAMENT while 22 year old Brighton FC of UK and tormentor-in-Chief of the Nigerian Defence, Simon Kofi Adingra who was born at Sunyani in Ghana on 1st January 2002 was the BEST YOUNG PLAYER.

Perhaps a choice that received massive applause was the BEST COACH OF THE TOURNAMENT that was given to the Ivorien ‘Pathologist’ who brought back the Elphants of Ivory Coast from the dead to become African Champions. Ivory Coast fondly called Abiku by Nigerians, a terminology used by a child that is said tt have died several times, was brought back by Emerse Fae former Ivory Coast U23 coach and assistant coach to the Manager, 70 year old Jean Louis Gassiet who was fired for underperformance after the group stages. It is being argued freely especially at ‘Beer Parlors’ in Abidjan that Fae was actually divinely destined for use to lift up the weak trunks of the Elephants.

Ivory Coast had a wonder in Sebastien Haller who shot down the Super Eagles of Nigeria and was just two years diagnosed with Testicular Cancer. He returned to football in January 2023 and halted the dreams of Nigeria to win the continental trophy for the fourth time.

Egypt still holds the record of 7 times winner; Cameroon is next as 5 times winner; Ghana won it 4 times; Nigeria and Cote D’Ivoire each had the title 3 times; Algeria and DR Congo got it twice each while the following countries had the trophy once each Morocco; Ethiopia; Senegal; South Africa; Sudan; Tunisia and Zambia.

Some coaches lost their jobs for little performances. Ivory Coast sacked their Head Coach, Jean-Loius Gasset and his assistant Ghis Lain Printant due to insufficient results. Algeria too sacked their Coach Djamel Belmadi after the two times Champions crashed out.

Some underperforming Refs were sent home during the knockout stages of the tournament. There was some drama when Moroccan Ref, Redouane Jiyad protested to CAF that he should be the one to handle the final match between Nigeria and Ivory Coast instead of Mauritanian Ref, Dahanne Beida. Jiyad took next available flight to Morocco and abandoned the 3rd place match. CAF promptly replaced him with Bamlek Tessema Weyessa of Ethiopia. His matter it was learnt has been referred to CAF Disciplinary Committee by CAF Refs Committee.

Thus Ivory Coast was African Champions; Nigeria took the Silver; South Africa won the Bronze and DR Congo was 4th.

African Football Confederation (CAF) upgrade the prize of the AFCON games as the winner will cart home $7m or N6.2B; Runners-up will pocket $4m or N3.5B; two Semifinalists will have $2.5m or N2.2B each while four quarterfinalists will receive$1.3m or N1.1B each. The winner receives $7m prize money which is a 40% increase from what immediate past Champions, Senegal received when she won the cup two years ago. The money is $2m higher than what Qatar received as winners of the Asian Cup.

The next AFCON Men’s’ tournament will take place in Morocco next year.

Eniola Olatunji is a renowned journalist with 46 years of experience in Sports Reporting and a CEO of Patmos Media Line.


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