Five AFCON talking points

2015-09-07 16:00
Shakes Mashaba (Gallo Images)

Johannesburg - Record seven-time champions Egypt scored five goals, but title-holders Ivory Coast could not manage even one during a dramatic matchday 2 of AFCON 2017 qualifying at the weekend.

Chad crumbled 5-1 at home against the revitalised Pharaohs while the Yaya Toure-less Elephants struggled on a heavy, wet Nigerian pitch when held 0-0 by combative Sierra Leone.

Egypt are among nine countries who have a maximum six points after a third of the qualifiers while eight other nations have yet to collect a point.

Here are five talking points from a weekend that delivered seven home wins, seven draws, 11 away wins and 54 goals at an average of 2.16 per game.


After three failed qualifying campaigns, the Pharaohs are looking good for a place at the 2017 Cup of Nations in Gabon.

Boosted by a convincing 3-0 home victory over Tanzania last June, they travelled to Chad hopeful of winning against opponents who restricted Nigeria to two goals in Kaduna on matchday 1.

Not even the most partisan Pharaohs followers would have dreamt of scoring five goals in the dry, scorching heat of N'Djamena, but Bassem Morsy thought differently.

The bearded striker from resurgent Cairo club Zamalek bagged a hat-trick and another emerging star, Kahraba, also scored in a triumph that sends a warning to Nigeria ahead of two clashes next March.


The Harambee Stars have not featured at the Cup of Nations since 2004 and their chances of ending this depressing run appear slim after a 2-1 home defeat by Zambia.

Having forced a creditable 1-1 draw in Congo Brazzaville three months ago, Scotland-born Kenya coach Bobby Williamson would have hoped for at least a point in Nairobi.

But after Michael Olunga gave the hosts an early lead, loose defending allowed Winston Kalengo and Collins Mbesuma to score for the Chipolopolo (Copper Bullets).

Next up for Kenya are away and home games against Guinea-Bissau and only two victories will keep the east Africans in contention for first place.


If new Super Eagles coach Sunday Oliseh had any doubts about the enormity of his task, they were dispelled during a 0-0 deadlock with Tanzania in Dar es Salaam.

It could have been even worse as Carl Ikeme, a 29-year-old debutant goalkeeper from English second-tier club Wolves, produced several top-class saves to foil the Taifa Stars.

In a group also containing back-in-form Egypt, the three-time champions really needed to bring maximum points back from east Africa.

But after early promise as Nigeria used the wings effectively, the momentum was lost and Tanzania had the better scoring chances.


While Bafana Bafana no longer rank among the African football giants, no football supporter in the republic imagined a 3-1 loss away to star-less lightweights Mauritania.

But an early howler from captain and goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune, who allowed a soft, long-range free-kick to slip from his grasp into the net, set the tone.

South Africa levelled with 10 men after newcomer Siyabonga Zulu was red-carded, then collapsed in the closing stages as Mauritania scored two outstanding individual goals.

Bafana coach Ephraim "Shakes" Mashaba was in denial, as usual, blaming the north-west African heat. What did he expect in Nouakchott ... snow?


The Cranes have not competed at the Cup of Nations since losing the 1978 final to hosts Ghana when notorious Idi Amin ruled the east African country.

There have been many close calls since with Uganda mastering the art of snatching failure from the jaws of success.

But a 1-0 win in the Comoros, coupled with likely closest rivals Burkina Faso losing by the same score in Botswana, has given the Cranes a three-point lead.

A draw in Ouagadougou and a win in Kampala next March against shock 2013 Cup of Nations finalists Burkina Faso and the Ugandans could end a near 40-year absence from the African football showpiece.

Read more on:    bafana bafana  |  afcon 2017  |  shakes mashaba  |  soccer


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