Saturday,18 August, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1232, (5 - 11 February 2015)
Saturday,18 August, 2018
Issue 1232, (5 - 11 February 2015)

Ahram Weekly

Absolute disgrace

Tunisia bows out after a refereeing howler while Ivory Coast ends the Algerian journey. Marawan Zayed reports

Al-Ahram Weekly

African football has always been known for its corruption and mediocre level of real leaders who can move with the continent forward to compete with European and South American football. The level of refereeing in Africa has always been put into question and the credibility of the referees was always under the spotlight.

Unfortunately, this version of the Africa Cup of Nations is no different as the magnificent Tunisian team bowed out of the competition in an absolutely disgraceful way. They had to face the hosts Equatorial Guinea in the quarter-finals of the competition and were leading by a single goal until the 92nd minute when a scandalous decision by the referee Ragindraparsad Seechurm awarded the hosts an imaginary penalty to equalise and take the game to extra time where the hosts added another goal from a terrific free kick by Javier Balboa who had also scored the equaliser.

However, going back to the penalty decision, it seems inevitable to think that the  Mauritian referee was bribed. He was only a few steps away from the incident that saw absolutely no contact between the Tunisian defender and the Guinean attacker but only the referee on this whole planet decided to give it a penalty much to the distress of the Tunisian players and their bench who went crazy.

Essam Al-Shawali, one of the most famous Arab football commentators, couldn’t hold himself back and said that the referee was bribed and that Eissa Hayatou who’s the head of CAF is corrupt as well.

It’s unusual to hear such words from commentators especially an extremely experienced one like Al-Shawali but given that he’s Tunisian you can’t blame him after watching his nation bowing out in such a shameful manner.

As Tunisia left the tournament, we were left with just one Arab team in the form of Algeria. Few would argue that Algeria is the best African nation in the last two or three years which was shown in the World Cup when they managed to qualify to round 16 before losing 2-1 in extra time to the eventual winners Germany.

They raised the bar since the World Cup and all eyes were on some of their stars like Yassine Brahimi who’s starring for Porto, Silmani who’s sparkling for Sporting Lisbon and Ryad Mehrez who’s having a brilliant season with Leicester City in the EPL.

They convincingly qualified from the group stages after defeating Senegal and South Africa and losing to Ghana in the dying seconds of the game. Facing Ivory Coast in the quarter-finals was never going to be easy but sadly the Algerians made it very easy for Bony and his teammates as the game ended in a 3-1 win for Ivory Coast which assured the death of the Arab dream in this year’s Africa Cup of Nations. The new Manchester City signing Wilfried Bony scored twice while the back from suspension Gervinho scored in the last minute even though El-Arabi Soudani scored five minutes after the break to level the score only to see his teammates fall one after another as Ivory Coast completely and surprisingly controlled the game in the second half.

Algeria was one of the favourites to win the title given their recent form and given the rise of their stars in recent years. They knew that Ivory Coast were always going to be their biggest rivals and the game was described as an early final by the pundits. Stars of the game Bony and Gervinho both had a point to make in the match and they certainly did so with the first failing to score in the group stages while the latter got sent off in the first game and got suspended for the remainder of the group stages.

The other two games of the quarter-finals saw Dynamo Kyiv’s star Mbokani score twice for the Democratic Congo as they came from two goals down to defeat Congo 4-2 in probably the best game of the tournament so far. Chelsea’s young star Christian Atsu, who is on loan with Everton, scored twice, with one of them already considered the goal of the tournament, to help Ghana defeat Guinea 3-0 in a one-sided affair that saw Ghana attack for 90 minutes and Guinea defend pathetically for the 90 minutes.

Ghana is expected to reach the final at the expense of Equatorial Guinea unless another shambolic refereeing performance takes place while Ivory Coast will have to overcome the Democratic Congo to set up a thrilling final against Ghana if everything goes as expected.

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