THE PREDICTOR: Bafana to pay price for Algeria loss as Gabon packs for home

African Elephants Cote d’Ivoire is a species going extinct in football terms. But before they go extinct properly, they will have to prove themselves right by beating Mali to keep their hopes alive.
Gervinho was sent off in the second half against Guinea which rules him out of the next two group matches. (Internet photo)
Gervinho was sent off in the second half against Guinea which rules him out of the next two group matches. (Internet photo)

Saturday

Group D

Cote d’Ivoire 0-1 Mali

African Elephants Cote d’Ivoire is a species going extinct in football terms. But before they go extinct properly, they will have to prove themselves right by beating Mali to keep their hopes alive.

Mali were lively and unlucky to fail to beat Cameroon in their opener and will look forward to playing with the same style that saw them impress last time.

Yaya Toure-led Cote d’Ivoire will be without suspended Gervinho, whose petulance left his side playing a man down for the better part of the second half last time. I feel Mali will overcome the Elephants.

Cameroon 1-2 Guinea

Cameroon have everything going strangely awry. And when it is Guinea showing up, the onus is tough. In a Nations Cup that is as arid of goals as the January Blues, this could be one of those games to provide a goal galore, but that would only happen if Cameroon score first and force Guinea to fight from behind.

Sunday

Group A

Congo 1-3 Burkina Faso

Congo will look to secure a surprise progression into the quarterfinals of the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations when they face Burkina Faso in their final Group A match at Nuevo Estadio de Ebebiyin tomorrow.

The Red Devils last appeared in the knockout rounds of the Afcon back in 1992, but now just a draw stand between them and the quarters. In fact, they can even afford to lose and hope the Gabon and Equatorial Guinea draw too and they will still progress.

But coach Claude Le Roy is not thinking that way; he wants all the three points against a lucklustre Burkinabe side looking anything but the shadow of the same side that finished as runner-up last year.

Burkina Faso is yet to score a goal in the tournament, with their playmaker Jonathan Pitroipa virtually anonymous and the coach clueless. But this do-or-die fixture should resurrect their verve.

This game is significant not because Burkina Faso must win but rather because of what happened last year. Burkina Faso were virtually in the World Cup in Brazil until it was proven they had used an illegible player while at home, a game that ended in a dour draw.

Caf later awarded Congo a 3-0 win after a boardroom decision. The two sides have met in seven official international matches and each side has claimed three wins in the sequence, including the return match in Pointe-Noire for that WC qualifier that saw the Stallions claim a 1-0 away win.

Gabon 2-3 Equatorial Guinea

Gabon was impressive in their tempo in the opening game when they put Burkina Faso to the sword, only to go anonymous against Congo in the second game that they lost. Now they cannot afford another such performance.

 The Nzalang Nacional find themselves in third place in the group on two points. A victory will be enough to see Esteban Becker’s side through to the last eight, but anything less will see the lowest ranked side in the tournament exit the tournament after just three matches.

 Equatorial Guinea and Gabon have met in 10 official international matches. The Panthers boast six wins compared to just one for Nzalang Nacional.

The teams’ most recent encounter was a 2011 friendly in Cannes that saw Gabon claim a 2-0 win. This will be their first meeting in the finals of the Afcon.

Monday

Group B

DR Congo 0-3 Tunisia

DR Congo are defensively a mettle, but their goalkeeping remains suspect. Maverick Kidiaba, who will retire at the end of the tournament, is loved for this comical tossing celebrations but his talent as a goalkeeper remains dire.

He has relied on his defenders to clear the lines and block most of the shots his way. Against the impressive Tunisia, though, Kidiaba could come to tears.

Cape Verde 2-0 Zambia

Zambia have lost Mayuka to injury and they have also lost ideas at a penultimate time. They fought bravely but fell to Tunisia in their second game and with just one point, a win against the highly rated Cape Verde Islands is a must.

Cape Verde have drawn with both Tunisia and DR Congo and will want to finish of the Copper Bullets (Chipolopolo) to progress. This will not be a touch task.

Tuesday

South Africa 3-1 Ghana

The fate of South Africa relies more in the game they played yesterday (against Senegal) than in this. If they lost to Senegal, then they will be meeting Ghana to just bid their farewell.

The Bafana Bafana let themselves down in a choking fashion when, 1-0 up, they won and missed a penalty against Algeria.

Startled to reality after seemingly approaching the fixture believing Shakes Mashaba could not revive South Africa from the abyss of football they had fallen into, the Atlas Lions started kicking dust.

They punished Bafana Bafana cynically to register the biggest win of the tourney by press time. Ghana is out of fashion, beaten by Senegal and will fall to South Africa.

Senegal 1-1 Algeria

Senegal have been revived, revived so much that they can afford to leave temperamental striker Demba Ba lounging in his premature retirement and also leave highly rated striker Papiss Cisse on the bench but still beat Ghana.

That is revival. But against an Algerian side that were a revelation at the World Cup in Brazil, this should be a tough test. I see a one-all draw as The Lions of Teranga usually find it difficult against the Arabs.

Again, this fixture depends a lot on yesterday’s results where Senegal was meeting South Africa and Algeria entertaining Ghana.

Wednesday

Group D

Cameroon 2-0 Cote d’Ivoire

Clash of the titans. Two African giants meet in a group D clash that should serve up something to savour before the knockout stages. The Indomitable Lions are favourites against the African Elephants. While Cameroon is on a revival, Cote d’Ivoire is on the opposite of fortunes and will be punished in this game.

Guinea 3-1 Mali

Guinea have not been the same since qualifying for the finals after beating Uganda in Morocco. They are playing differently and with more ambition. They should be the surprise of the tournament this year and go all the way to the finals.

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