February 2, 2015

Stage Set for Africa Cup of Nations Semis

The stage for the last four in the on-going 2015 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) in Equatorial Guinea is finally set.

Equatorial Guinea fans cheer their team with a big national flag in the back ground. layers celebrate
Equatorial Guinea fans cheer their team with a big national flag in the back ground. layers celebrate

Although the hosts stormed the semis in a controversial style after a dubious penalty awarded to them in their 2-1 win over Tunisia, they are set to face a hungry Ghana team on Thursday at the Malabo Stadium. Ghana on their part saw off Guinea 3-0 on Sunday.

The first semi final on Wednesday will see Cote d’Ivoire travel to take on the tournament’s surprise package DR Congo at the Bata Stadium.

Cote d’Ivoire who only won the trophy in 1992 where in excellent form on Sunday night when they brushed a side Africa’s best ranked team Algeria 3-1 at the quarter final stage.

Wilfried Guemiand Bony who recently made a big money move to England Premier League side Manchester City netted a brace, while Kouassi Yao Gervinho who was making a come back after serving a two match suspension because of read card he picked in the opening match also got his name on the score sheet. Hilal Soudani scored the lone goal for the Desert Fennecs.

Former Chelsea coach and now Ghana’s tactician Avram Grant said facing hosts Equatorial Guinea will not be an easy task in-front of their fans. The Israel born coach said although they played very well in this quarter-final against a very good Guinea team, they need to remain focused as the tournament gets to the crucial stage.

Although Ghana lost their opening group game to Senegal, they have picked themselves up to Algeria, South Africa and now Guinea in the knock out stage. The Black Stars are chasing a fifth Afcon title.

For Cote d’Ivoire led by the experienced Toure brothers Yaya and Kolo together with Solomon Kalou, Gervinho, Bony and Max Alian Gradel, they look a formidable side to run over the DR Congo side. But Coach Florent Ibenge’s team that fought from two goals down against Congo Brazzaville to win 4-2 in the quarters should not be taken lightly as they have showed they have the hunger to win.

The winners of the 2015 Afcon trophy will pocket US$1.5 million while the runner up takes US$1 million. Teams that will play in the third and fourth play-off will each pocket US$750,000, while the four teams that fell out at the quarter final stage (Congo Brazzaville, Tunisia, Guinea and Algeria) will take US$600,000.

For finishing third in each of the four groups, the teams will take US$500,000, while those that finished bottom like Burkina Faso, Zambia, South Africa and Cameroon are assured of US$400,000 for finishing bottom in their respective groups.

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