Thursday, January 31, 2013

Spotlight on Africa

It's deadline day for the European transfer window and while most of the football headlines concern themselves with the riots surrounding "Super" Mario Balotelli's return to Italy or David Beckham's new Parisian digs, an entire continent holds its breath, quietly awaiting the outcome of an international tournament that's been all but overshadowed.

This weekend, the knockout stage of the African Cup of Nations tournament will begin in South Africa.  Ghana, America's unofficial international nemesis, are set to clash with Cape Verde, whose shocking success have set the stage for this David v. Goliath matchup.  Hosts South Africa take on Mali as the Bafana Bafana will look to vindicate themselves before the home crowds.  The Elephants (and "heavy" favorites) of Ivory Coast will tangle with the Super Eagles of Nigeria Sunday afternoon, while the Togolese will seek to silence the up-and-coming Burkina Faso.

Defending champions Zambia were sent packing after drawing each fixture in the group stage.  The worst part is that because the AFCON was recently restructured so as not to interfere with the World Cup, Zambia will not be invited to the Confederations Cup.

The group stage witnessed some livewire matches including a tense draw between South Africa and Morocco and an Ivorian drubbing of Tunisia.  There's potential for even more excitement in the knockouts.  But here are some highlights, supposing you may have missed out on the action:





All my joy and excitement are compounded by the fact that I'll be traveling to Africa myself in a matter of weeks!  I can't wait to share God's love (as well as the beautiful game!) with my Ugandan brothers and sisters!

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