Stoppage Time – International Football Blog

African Cup of Nations: Group Stage Round-Up

Posted in African Football by peterbein on January 21, 2010
Freddie Kanoute

Freddie Kanouté's Mali were unlucky not to qualify for the quarter-finals

The group stage of the African Cup of Nations is over and now there are four mouth watering quarter-finals to look forward to. With traditional heavyweights such as Egypt, Ivory Coast and Ghana involved along with hosts Angola the tournament is now about to enter the business end. Stoppage Time looks back at each of the groups:


The group and the tournament started off with an epic 4-4 draw between hosts Angola and Mali, a game revered for its dramatic comeback as Mali were 4-0 behind with eleven minutes to go. Malawi won their first game against Algeria but, alas, they were the only points they were to collect in the tournament whilst the other three nations fought it out for the top two places. Algeria’s narrow 1-0 win over Mali would have significant consequences at the group’s conclusion as Algeria went into their final group match knowing that a draw would secure a quarter-final place regardless of what happened in the Mali-Malawi encounter. Algeria got the point they needed thanks to a 0-0 draw against Angola who topped the group but the Malians were upset with the way both teams went about the game and lodged an official complaint with the African Football Confederation (CAF). Algeria went through by virtue of their head-to-head record over Mali but when one looks at the statistics it would seem that Mali were more worthy of a place: a positive goal difference of plus two compared to Algeria’s minus one whilst Mali scored seven goals in the tournament compared to Algeria’s one.


Togo were disqualified from the African Cup of Nations after they didn’t take part in their first scheduled game against Ghana following the tragic shooting in Cabinda. Despite the Togolese delegation requesting that they be allowed back into the tournament after a period of grief the CAF continued with the tournament and, therefore, the three remaining nations played just two matches in the group stage. Ivory Coast had a difficult start only managing to draw 0-0 against Burkina Faso but turned on the style in their second game defeating Ghana 3-1 to top the group. In the final game Ghana beat Burkina Faso 1-0 to seal their place in the last eight.


The six time winners and defending champions Egypt, who some people had written off before the competition started, easily topped the group with a 100% record, the only country to do so in the group stage. They beat Nigeria (3-1), Benin (2-0) and Mozambique (2-0) to finish three points ahead of nearest challengers Nigeria who secured second thanks to easy victories over Mozambique (2-0) and Benin (3-0) which gave them a five point cushion over the groups’ whipping boys who, in their head-to-head, shared the points after a 2-2 draw.


This group went right to the death as various tie-breaking criteria decided who finished where in the group. After three matchdays three nations had four points each, Zambia, Cameroon and Gabon whilst Tunisia finished in last place with three points from successive draws to leave them out of the equation. The other three countries all had a record of having won one, drawn one and lost one of their games and all three had equal goal difference so the crucial tie-breaker proved to be the number of goals scored. Both Zambia and Cameroon scored five goals each whilst Gabon only scored two so it was they who had to step aside for the others in a heartbreaking way to depart from any tournament.

QUARTER-FINAL DRAW (Games to be played on January 24/25)





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