Angola 0-0 Algeria, both teams qualify: It was a result both teams needed and they duly got it, but the manner is which it came left so much to be desired given the fact that this is a major competition and the whole world is watching.
With the hosts already through to the quarterfinals, 2010 World Cup-bound Algeria needed to avoid defeat to join them while hoping that Mali beat Malawi. And that’s exactly how it panned out.
Full credit to Mali for their positive approach in a match they had nothing to lose and considering the way they found back from 4-0 to snatch a dramatic 4-4 draw against Angola as well as their 3-1 win on Monday, they probably deserved more from the tournament than going out at the first hurdle.
Their only let down was the 1-0 reverse against an uninspiring Algerian side in the second game.
It’s a big shame that World Cup finalists Algeria, who were well beaten by rank outsiders Malawi 3-0, could only play for a goalless draw in their final group game! Yes, they played it and at the end of then day, the hosts benefited because they did not gave to go into the second gear for this one.
Of all five World Cup bound teams in Angola, Algeria’s performances have not said much of their capacity to do much in South Africa in a group that includes Slovenia, USA and one of the tournament favourites England.
Algeria upset the odds by seeing off high-profile African rivals Egypt (who have won a record six African titles, including the last two) to book their place at the June/July tournament for the first time since 1986.
Yet, a meaningless, funny theory of head-to-head helps them pip Mali to a place in the round of 16 despite having a -2 goal-difference as compared to Mali’s +1.
After what I have seen from Ivory Coast, Ghana, Cameroon and Nigeria, I still think that no World Cup-bound team is going to win the tournament in Angola and if the reining champions retain it (for the third successive time), it will not send a good message about the level of competitiveness on the continent, am afraid.
But hope I’m wrong.