Thursday, January 31, 2008


NIGERIA’s forward Osaze Odemwingie has warned the rest of the tournament that his team means business after its “miracle” qualification.
The Super Eagles beat Benin 2-0 while Ivory Coast defeated Mali, making Nigeria scrape through the last eight and a quarter-final meeting with Ghana.
"We asked for something of a miracle and it happened," said Odemwingie, who is suspended for Sunday's match.
"We showed great mental strength. Rule us out at your own risk."
The victory for Nigeria sparked scenes of celebrations in the Super Eagles camp as the West African nation avoided elimination at the group stage for the first time since 1982.
Odemiwingie, 27, had an excellent game against the Squirrels, setting up John Obi Mikel for the opening goal.
Yakubu Aiyegbeni made the result safe for Nigeria five minutes from time — and with Ivory Coast comfortably defeating Mali, the Super Eagles finished second in Group B on goal difference.
We are now up against the host team, and if we want to progress in this competition, we will have to beat them as well," added Odemwingie.
Didier Drogba got his name on the score sheet as Ivory Coast won their third straight game.
The heavily fancied Elephants will now play Guinea for a place in the semi-finals, but the Chelsea striker is refusing to talk up his team's chances of winning the tournament.
When asked about the prospects of the Ivorians improving on their status as beaten finalists in 2006, Drogba said: "Be careful — football is very strange.
"I hope we can keep it very simple, not speak too much and do it on the pitch.
"It is another tournament that is starting now. Two years ago was two years ago - this is a new competition and we have different players. I hope we go on to win it, but now it is a series of knockout games” — BBC.

OLISEH FEARS FOR NIGERIA ...Says Super Eagles lack real leader to push them forward

A FORMER captain of the Super Eagles, Sunday Oliseh, has admitted that the upcoming quarter-final showdown against the Ghana Black Stars “will be difficult in many respects for the Nigerians”.
Speaking on the BBC moments after the Nigerians beat Benin 2—0 to book a place in the quarter-final round, Oliseh said: “It's going to be difficult, because Ghana were pretty impressive on Monday against Morocco. I was very impressed with Essien who seemed to cover every part of the pitch and he really showed why he is Africa's player of the moment.
“But there are two kinds of players; there are those who go out on the pitch and don't play well because they are afraid of what might happen if they lose.
“And then there is the type of player who says, ‘Finally, this is the time to show people how good I am. I hope my countrymen will think of the second option”.
Oliseh, who captained Nigeria to win the cup in 1994, was happy that the Super Eagles made it to the second round.
“I know how significant it would have been failing to qualify for the quarter-finals at the Africa Cup of Nations, especially as we didn't qualify for the World Cup two years ago.
“It was more than important. After the game, you could see the players together rejoicing and jumping around because it was such a relief for them.
“I'm not sure the victory will be a spark for Nigeria to go on and win the tournament, but I hope it will be.
“We are playing our eternal rivals, Ghana, in the next round and this game could yet ignite the team. What will certainly help is if the players could remove the pressure of history from their heads.
“They have a problem dealing with the past glories of the national team. The heights that my generation scaled are very hard to replicate. We won the Nations Cup, we reached another final and we dominated African football.
“They have to realise they have to write their own story and forget about the past.
“The national team is also lacking a real leader to push them on, the way you see Didier Drogba for Ivory Coast or Michael Essien for Ghana. Every team has to have one and luckily we saw John Obi Mikel do some of that against Benin. I just hope he can continue.
“I was younger than him when I became a leader for the national team.
“Leadership is something which people are either born with or have to learn. I think Mikel has to learn to be more imposing in the team.
“Whether this victory saved Berti Vogts, I don't know - that will be down to what happens in the Ghana game, because if we don't get a good result against the Black Stars, it will still be seen as a negative tournament.
“It would be the first time since 1982 that we didn't make it as far as the semi-finals.
“Nigeria is a very special country. We are the most populated African nation in the world with 130 million people, so it's normal that you are under pressure as the coach of the national team.
“In 1994 before we played the Nations Cup which we won in Tunisia, I was a young up-and-coming player when we played Ghana in our last friendly before the tournament.
“I played so well that people said, 'if he can play like that against Ghana, he doesn't have a problem any more. He must be a regular'. That tells you how big this game is against Ghana on Sunday.
“Much of the match is down to the coach to make it clear to the players that there is no pressure. Vogts has more psychological work to do, because it is too late to start talking about tactics now”.

ENGLISH CLUBS LEFT DRY ...By the absence of 36 top African stars

THE Premier League's dressing rooms became quieter places this week after almost 40 players left their clubs for Ghana and the African Cup of Nations, a tournament that ignites national pride but also sparks despair in managers who find themselves short of players. David Moyes and Sam Allardyce have led the now common calls for the competition, which kicks off in January to be moved to the summer. Their protests are not surprising: between them, Everton and Newcastle will lose seven players this month.
The Nigerian Football Association gave Yakubu Ayegbeni permission to play in Everton's Carling Cup semi-final tie at Chelsea but there was no such dispensation for Steven Pienaar who was told by South Africa to ignore his club manager's demands and join up with the squad immediately. Moyes's desire to keep players for as long as possible is borne out of past experiences; he knows the effect a new year exodus can have.
In January 2004, he lost Joseph Yobo to the African Cup of Nations in Tunisia. The Nigerian was a regular in Everton's defence and without him the side lost four league games, including a 4-3 reverse to Manchester United and a 3-0 loss to Birmingham. Everton had only conceded three or more goals in three of their 29 previous matches that season, without Yobo, and they did it twice in five days.
Yobo's return stabilised a side that was close to being relegated, they lost just once in their next nine games, kept three clean sheets and managed to stay in the division by just six points. Had the African Cup of Nations been longer, or Nigeria progressed further than the semi-finals, Everton could now be in the Championship.
Allardyce's despair is also based on past experiences. As the manager of Bolton, he lost four players to the 2006 tournament, held in Egypt, including El Hadji Diouf. The Senegal forward's departure coincided with the club's Uefa Cup tie at home to Marseille. They drew 0-0 before losing the second leg 2-1, a result that ended their first European campaign. Diouf also aggravated a hernia in Egypt, which meant he could not play again until late April. Bolton failed to qualify for Europe that season by seven points.
Diouf could have been an important source of goals then and could be even more so now should the club, as expected, sell Nicolas Anelka to Chelsea. But Diouf will be on international duty again and Senegal's gain could prove to be Bolton's ruin. They are only three points off the relegation zone and the loss of two regular strikers this month could see them slide into the bottom three.
"The African Cup of Nations is never going to move. It makes life difficult for Premier League clubs because more teams are taking more players from Africa," Allardyce said last week. "I don't think FIFA will contemplate shifting the tournament because it is such a big thing for the African boys and it's when they want it."
The African Cup of Nations, being held for the 26th time this year, is held in January through necessity. Most grounds in the continent do not have floodlights meaning matches have to be played during the day, impossible during the searing heat of June and July across much of the continent.
There is an obvious retort to managers who complain about scheduling: stop buying African players. According to a Uefa survey, 204 African players were playing in Europe in 2006, 24 in England. That figure surged to 40 last year and the success of the likes of Didier Drogba at Chelsea and Kolo Touré at Arsenal will only see more arrive. As Joe Jordan, Ports- mouth's assistant manager, said as his club lost four players to this year's Cup of Nations, "We're signing players from Africa because of their ability and that outweighs the handicap of losing them for a few weeks."
The African Cup of Nations' effect on the Premier League title race has been negligible and this is perhaps why Arsène Wenger remains calm despite Arsenal regularly seeing a January exodus.
The Gunners lost two players, Nwankwo Kanu and Lauren, in 2002 yet still won the championship, beating Liverpool, who lost no one, into second place. Arsenal's invincibles then stormed to the title in 2004 despite losing Kanu again. Touré and Emmanuel Eboué missed matches at the start of 2006 but so did Drogba and Chelsea still won their second consecutive title.
"I consider the players who go away to be injured," Wenger said. "The day they return, they are no longer injured and I put them back in my team."
The price of going
Rigobert Song's departure to the African Cup of Nations in 2000, which was co-hosted by Ghana and Nigeria, was the start of the end of his Liverpool career. The Cameroon captain competed with Sami Hyypia for a place in the centre of defence before the tournament but played only four more times in the league that season after he returned. He lost his place to Stéphane Henchoz, who went on to form a formidable partnership with Hyypia over the next few seasons.
Frédéric Kanouté's participation in the 2004 African Cup of Nations gave Jermain Defoe the chance to establish himself in the Tottenham side. Defoe scored four goals in three games while Kanouté was away and Kanouté lost his place as a regular and joined Sevilla in May 2005, still angry that Spurs had tried to stop him competing in the tournament. The former France Under-21 international had registered with Mali just beforehand, which went down badly with club officials.


Arsenal: Kolo Touré and Emmanuel Eboué (Ivory Coast), Alexandre Song (Cameroon)
Birmingham:: Richard Kingson (Ghana), Mehdi Nafti and Radhi Jaidi (Tunisia)
Blackburn: Aaron Mokoena (South Africa)
Bolton: El Hadji Diouf (Senegal), Abdoulaye Méïté (Ivory Coast)
Chelsea: Mikel John Obi (Nigeria), Didier Drogba and Salomon Kalou (Ivory Coast), Michael Essien (Ghana)
Everton: Joseph Yobo and Yakubu Ayegbeni (Nigeria), Steven Pienaar (South Africa)
Liverpool: Nabil El Zhar (Morocco), Mohamed Sissoko (Mali)
Middlesbrough: Mohamed Shawky (Egypt)
Newcastle: Obafemi Martins (Nigeria), Geremi (Cameroon), Abdoulaye Faye and Habib Beye (Senegal)
Portsmouth: Pape Bouba Diop (Senegal), Nwankwo Kanu and John Utaka (Nigeria), Sulley Muntari (Ghana)
Reading: André Bikey (Cameroon), Emerse Faé (Ivory Coast), Ibrahima Sonko (Senegal)
Sunderland: Dickson Etuhu (Nigeria)
Tottenham: Didier Zokora (Ivory Coast)
West Ham: John Pantsil (Ghana), Henri Camara (Senegal)
Wigan: Salomon Olembe (Cameroon), Julius Aghahowa (Nigeria)

SCRAMBLE FOR AFRICAN STARS HOTS UP ....As Ghana 2008 tournament enters knock-out stage

AT the end of the 19th Century, European countries, in what became known as the scramble for Africa, sought to carve up the continent between them.
In 2008, the scramble is to secure the continent's finest footballing talent.
The regard in which African players are now held by Premier League clubs is plain for all to see.
When Mali hosted the Africa Cup of Nations in 2002, England's top flight was stripped of just eight players.
Fast forward to the 2008 edition in Ghana and that figure has risen to a staggering 35.
And despite many a manager's criticism of the tournament's mid-season scheduling, it appears likely that the trend will only continue to grow.
BBC Sport understands that all but five Premier League clubs have sent scouts to the Nations Cup, not only to spot potential recruits for the here and now but, more importantly, for the future.
"We already know the players and I don't think any clubs of our calibre go there to sign a player — they should know who they want a long time before," said Chelsea's chief scout and head of youth development Frank Arnesen. "We are monitoring for the future."
Chelsea's four players competing at the Nations Cup — Didier Drogba, Michael Essien, Salomon Kalou and Jon Mikel Obi — were purchased from other European clubs at a total cost of more than £50m.
Part of Arnesen's job is to ensure the club secure the best possible talent at the best possible price.
If a club can identify and buy talent before African players make their name in the major European leagues, there are huge savings to be made.
But even if they have made a name for themselves, BBC Sport found a widespread belief in the Premier League that African players offer excellent value for money.
"Look at Habib Beye, whom we signed from Marseille for £2m," said Newcastle first-team coach Steve Round.
"For a full international of his pedigree and the amount of games he has played in Europe and the Champions League, to get an English player of the same pedigree could cost you in the region of £8m-£10m."
Just as important as the financial advantages are the physical and technical perk.
"One of the most significant changes to the Premier League over the past five years is how much the high intensity output has improved — it has gone up about 2.5km in the last five years, which is a colossal amount," added Round.
"That is partly due to better training methods and better athletes being produced but also because of the influx of a lot of these African players who, physically, are very good."
Tord Grip, a member of the Manchester City coaching staff under Sven-Goran Eriksson, added: "They seem to be well-suited to the style of play in the Premier League.
"African players are strong, athletic and good technically. You also find that they are very motivated, because they have come from a difficult and poor background."
Arnesen insists individuals from any background can make it to the top, but the Dane concedes the amount of football played by Africans as they grow up is key to their development, a point echoed by Damien Comolli.
"When you go to any country in Africa, people, especially kids, play football from eight in the morning until late at night," said Tottenham's sporting director.
"When you have millions of kids playing street football all day long, players will come through, exactly like in Brazil."
Scouting is a time-consuming and expensive business and BBC Sport has learned that one major Premier League club's scouting wage bill runs close to £1m.
If monitoring players in Europe is a difficult logistical exercise, it is even harder in Africa, given the sheer size of the continent - Nigeria's population alone is more than 130 million.
Arsenal, who have former player Gilles Grimandi scouting for them in Ghana, have had an advantage over many of their Premier League rivals because of manager Arsene Wenger's close relationship with compatriot Jean-Marc Guillou.
As well as giving Wenger his break in management - the two worked together at Cannes — Guillou helped set up an academy in the Cote d’Ivoire, run in co-operation with the local team ASEC of Abidjan.
Graduates of that Academy include Arsenal's Kolo Toure and Emmanuel Eboue, Chelsea's Kalou, and half the Ivory Coast 2006 World Cup squad.
"They are now well-coached because some of them are coming through various coaching systems or development centres that are producing quality players now," said Wigan assistant manager Eric Black.
“The indiscipline that was there maybe 10 years ago is disappearing. They're being coached by European coaches who are in Africa, or when they are at clubs in Europe.”
With players from just four Premier League clubs - Derby, Aston Villa and Manchester City and Wigan - not present in Ghana and the country awash with their scouts, England needs little convincing of Africa's worth.

• Additional reporting by Simon Austin, Russell Barder, Chris Bevan and Phil McNulty.
Credit: BBC

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

AMAZING STARS ...Through to the quarter-finals (1a)

Story: Samuel Ebo Kwaitoo

Ghana's Black Stars yesterday revived the nation’s flagging spirits with a 24-carat display against the Atlas Lions of Morocco which guaranteed them a quarter-final berth and a special presidential bonus in the ongoing 26th Africa Cup of Nations tournament.
A 2-0 convincing victory, sealed and delivered before the break, to the satisfaction of the capacity crowd, propelled the Stars to the top of Group A with a clean record, while awaiting a last eight date with either Nigeria Mali or Cote d’Ivoire.
Apparently inspired by President Kufuor's visit to their camp a day before, the entire Ghana team put up a real championship performance throughout the game and walked out of the Ohene Djan Sports Stadium with honour and pride as the overjoyed fans applauded them ceaselessly.
The icing on the cake on that memorable occasion was the crowning of midfield general, Michael Essien, and skipper John Mensah as the Man of the Match and Fair Play Player award winner, respectively.
The result quickly wiped out from the memory of Ghanaians that agonising 1-0 defeat by Morocco which put paid to a successful title defence by Ghana in the 1980 Nations Cup won by Nigeria on home soil.
Playing in front of an expectant home crowd, the Stars, who were determined to impress after their dismal showing against Namibia , were 1-0 up by the 25th minute, courtesy Chelsea star Essien who played his best game yet for Ghana yesterday. Essien, who was a victim of rough play, dazzled the Moroccan defence with a quick dash to connect a Sulley Muntari free kick before goalkeeper Nadir Lamyaghri could react.
Before the thunderous cheers in the stands could die down, Sulley Muntari followed it up with another stunner a minute to recess, with Essien as the architect this time.
Before then, Asamoah Gyan, who acquitted himself so well and was only denied a goal by an enemy called ill-luck, had whetted the fans’ appetite for more with a great run and a shot which missed the upright by inches.
Though the Stars dominated the first half, the Moroccans, who relied on their usual fast breaks on the flanks, proved to be a threat to the Stars’ defence on many occasions, with Marouane Chamakh and Youssef Hadji leading the attack.
Though the Moroccans came from recess a rejuvenated side with the introduction of Tarik Sektioui in their attack, it was the Stars who continued their dominance in a thrilling half which the spectators enjoyed to the full.
The Stars again seized the midfield with a perfect Essien and young, promising Anthony Annan combination and anytime they decided to move, they did so in telepathy with Asamoah, Manuel Agogo, Quincy and Muntari like a symphony, to the delight of the fans.
No wonder Essien was stretchered off for the second time in the 65th minute, while the smallish Annan had a fair share of the knocks from the Moroccan hatchet men.
When the Ghanaians decided to go for another goal in a two-minute blitz in the 73rd and 74th minutes, Asamoah’s goal-bound header to an Agogo cross hit the mid-section of goalkeeper Lamyaghri coincidentally, while Essien’s unusual left-footer from the edge of the box was tipped to corner by the agile keeper.
When a beautiful bicycle kick from the highly-criticised Asamoah bounced off the crossbar seven minutes to the end, it became clear that he did not have a goal in the game and he, therefore, gave up the fight when he was stretchered off the game four minutes later, only to be replaced by his elder brother, Baffour Gyan.
Andre Ayew and Haminu Draman, who replaced Agogo and Quincy late in the game, hardly made any impact, and when Richard Kingson saved Hadji’s powerful shot in injury time, it became evident that the die was, indeed, cast for the Moroccans to bid goodbye to Ghana 2008.
Ghana: Richard Kingson, John Paintsil, Hans Adu Sarpei, Eric Addo, John Mensah, Anthony Annan, Quincy Owusu-Abeyie/Andre Ayew, Michael Essien, Asamoah Gyan/ Baffour Gyan, Manuel ‘Junior’ Agogo, Haminu Dramani and Sulley Muntari

Friday, January 18, 2008


Story: Zakaria Alhassan, Tamale

TAMALE is set to host the Ghana 2008 African Cup of Nations tournament. The metropolis is one of the four host cities of the soccer fiesta and Group D teams - Senegal, Tunisia, Angola and South Africa – would be based there.
At the moment, work on the hostel facility for the competing teams, stadium, hospitality industry, security, health and sanitation are almost complete.
The GETFund 2008 Hostel, which would host the teams, is ready for occupation.
The 126-room three-star hotel has facilities that include 32 suites, offices for the CAF officials who would be based there and specially designed rooms for the physically challenged.
Other facilities at the hotel are a gymnasium fitted with state-of-the-art equipment, laundry, security features such as Closed Circuit Television(CCTv) cameras and an automatic switch-over standby generator.
The hotel is being managed by officials of Crystal Rose Hotel/Hostel Limited in Kumasi. According to the manager, Mr Akwasi Kumah, ‘‘we also have an ambulance and sick bay that includes a doctor’s room, as well as a 200-seater capacity cafeteria and a conference hall all attached.’’
He gave the assurance that with the recruitment of disciplined and professional staff, they were well prepared to offer the best of services to the players and officials during their period of their stay there.
Another significant development at the hotel is the tarring of the road leading to the facility. This issue had been of concern to many residents in the metropolis as the road generated a lot of dust, especially in the harmattan season.
Rehabilitation works at the Tamale airport are almost complete. When the Daily Graphic visited the place, the workers of Consar Limited, the contractors, were busily putting finishing touches to the terminal building, the VVIP Lounge, control tower and the generator house.
According to the site engineer, Mr Martin Addo, ‘‘we are very sure of meeting the deadline before the arrival of the various teams’’.
Work on the $38.5 million Tamale Stadium complex was also completed a couple of months ago. At the moment, various contractors are busy working even in the night to complete the external works before the first match between South Africa and Angola next week.
All three training pitches near the stadium, the Tamale Senior High School (TAMASCO) and the Northern School of Business (NOBISCO) are ready.
The 20,000-seater stadium is a masterpiece of aesthetic beauty and strategically located on a hill near the forest at the Education Ridge roundabout. It covers a site area of 26.834 hectares, about 22,517 square metres. Among the facilities at the ultra modern edifice are a 40-bedroom hostel, a VIP stand, a giant electronic score-board, a press box and dressing rooms and a luscious green turf that would be suitable for the exhibition of free-flowing football game.
Among the programmes lined-up for the opening game at the stadium and throughout the period the tournament would last are gymnastic displays and cultural performances.
Sources at the Tamale Venue Organising Committee indicated that an elaborate programme had been lined up for the entire period. They, however, declined to reveal what it entailed.
So far, the Northern Regional office of the Ghana Tourists Board has offered training to people in the hospitality industry, including hoteliers, bar and restaurant operators and taxi drivers in the metropolis.
The principal resource officer of the GTB in the region, Mr Alexander Kwame Nketia, said the trainees were taken through topics such as etiquette, mannerism, personal grooming, maintenance and hygiene and customer skills.
He said so far, the over 80 hotels and guest house facilities in the metropolis had more than 1,500 rooms. The officer added that several people had also registered their private homes to be used during the tournament.
A four-storey GETFund-sponsored hostel facility at the Tamale Polytechnic that can house more than 400 people has been completed for use by some of the visitors who would want to stay there.
Many taxi drivers in the metropolis are also preparing their cabs to attract patronage from visitors.
A 27-year old cabbie, Mr Iddrisu Musah, gave the assurance that ‘‘my colleagues and I are going to do our best to provide quality services to our brothers and sisters who would be coming. We are also going to dress decently and behave well towards our guests.’’
Commenting on the fare, he said, ‘‘we are going to charge the normal fares. After all, the people coming are our own African brothers and sisters.’’
On security, the police have established a Rapid Deployment Force (RDF) that has been equipped to withstand and combat violence and effectively control crowd in the metropolis during the tournament.
The Northern Regional Police Commander, Mr Ephraim Okoe Brakatu, said the setting up of the RDF would enable the personnel to deal with people in a ‘‘more professional and pragmatic way in this era of contemporary policing’’.
The 500 trainees of the RDF were taken through intervention and maintenance of order techniques, demonstrations, practical police duties, arrest, handcuffing, search, patrols and escorts. They would complement their colleagues to beef up security at the hotels, tournament venue and the metropolis in general.
The Northern Regional Minister, Alhaji Mustapha Ali Idris, for his part, urged the personnel to step up their efforts in ensuring a successful tournament, stressing, ‘‘we want Tamale to stand out as a unique city before, during and after the games’’.
He also commended the security services for their immense contribution to the prevailing peace and unity in the region and said the area was very stable and ready to host the CAN 2008 tournament.
The Ghana Heath Service has also trained its staff in Tamale in the effective handling of emergency cases during the tournament. Among the areas touched on were cardio-respiratory emergencies, basic life support, bleeding, shock, head and spinal injury and mass casualty incident management.
The national co-ordinator of the programme, Dr Wilfred Addo, gave the assurance that the ‘‘GHS and its stakeholders are prepared to put in our best to ensure a successful tournament.’’
The Tamale Teaching Hospital and the West End Hospital at Zogbeli are the designated tournament health centres.
On sanitation, the Northern Regional Operations supervisor of Zoomlion, a waste management organisation, Prince Alhassan Baako, said his outfit had taken delivery of some sanitation equipment that included two water tankers and a road washer, to help them in their clean-up exercises during the tournament.
‘‘We have also beefed up our staff strength by employing 250 additional hands to help keep every nook and cranny of the metropolis, including the stadium, tidy at all times,’’ he added.
At the moment, the supervisor said, his outfit had, among other responsibilities, white washed the pavements along the principal streets of the metropolis.


Story: Albert K. Salia & Mary Mensah

UNDOUBTEDLY, global attention is currently on Ghana. The land of gold, the abode of peace, the home of hospitality, the gateway to Africa and the country championing African excellence, is hosting 15 other countries in a biennial soccer fiesta.
The Ghana 2008 event is not just bringing in the 15 teams and their supporters, but is also drawing dignitaries, tourists and lovers of football across the world to Ghana in the January 20 to February 10, 2008 event.
Even without such events, criminal activities have often threatened the serene atmosphere of the country. And with large numbers of people coming in, some with varied aims, it is important that the security agencies rise up to the task to sustain the soaring image of Ghana and live up to the standards of the world football governing body, FIFA’s standards.
It is in that vein that the security agencies, led by the Ghana Police Service, have masterminded an operational strategy to ensure a peaceful and enjoyable Ghana 2008. The Ghana Police Service has re-structured its operational strategy from the routine law enforcement and keeping the peace to a proactive paradigm that calls for an increased police visibility and accessibility through day and night patrols with the view to preventing crime.
The strategy, known as the multi-agency approach, has been adopted as the security management style of the tournament. The ultimate objective of the strategy is to stem the tide in all violent crimes, especially armed robbery, reduce the fear of crime and to make all commuters safe.
To operationalise the multi-agency approach, the security agencies have already collected, collated, analysed and disseminated intelligence among themselves and continue to do same as and when the intelligence is made available.
Fortunately, the managers of Ghana 2008 security have involved the security officers of participating countries, stadium management staff, the National Ambulance Service, stewards and volunteers, ball boys and private security companies in their operations.
Under the strategy, the security agencies will be providing security for VVIPs and VIPS; providing security for the arrival and departure of match officials, teams, supporters, tourists and visitors coming from outside the country at all entry points and escorting match officials and players to their hotels.
Security is also to be provided at hotels, training pitches, the four stadia, venues of social activities and the site of the giant screen. General security for spectators during and after matches would be ensured while traffic management and day and night patrols at the four match centres would be carried out to ensure safety for all people.
Highway patrols on major routes to the four match centres would also be undertaken throughout the day and night to make the highways safe while contingency plans have been made to provide security services throughout the country to ensure a successful tournament.
For those who fear that criminals and other unscrupulous persons from other countries may have easy access to the country to perpetuate crime, the good news is that the International Police Organisation (Interpol) is sending an Interpol Major Event Support Team (IMEST) to support their Ghanaian counterparts before, during and after the tournament.
The IMEST will be based at all the entry and exit points of the country and equipped with state-of-the-art technology to help track down any criminal as well as traffickers of both human and other illegal commodities such as drugs and weapons. Another group of the IMEST team would also operate from the Security Command Room located at the Ohene Djan Stadium. An IMEST team would also join their counterparts from the Ghana Immigration Service and the Customs, Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS) to patrol all the entry points where they would be in close communication with the IMEST Control Rooms at the various stadia.
As part of the security management for the tournament, personnel of the various agencies, namely the Ghana Police Service, the Ghana Armed Forces, the Ghana National Fire Service, the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS), the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) and the Customs, Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS), have undergone a lot of training, both local and abroad, to ensure the successful management of the security strategy for Ghana 2008.
In furtherance of their determination to enforce maximum security, the agencies have established a command structure at three levels to facilitate communication.
A Gold Control Room will be established at the Police Headquarters with the Director-General of Police Operations, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Mr Patrick Timbillah as the Gold Commander.
The respective Regional Police Commanders for Accra, Ashanti, Western and Northern Regions have been designated Silver Commanders while the various divisional and district commanders under them would serve as Bronze Commanders. The Bronze Commanders will be supporting the Silver Commanders in discharging the various security responsibilities.
Their responsibilities include conducting searches on all spectators in the stadia to detect unauthorised materials and prohibited objects such as fire crackers, firearms, knives, narcotic drugs and alcoholic beverages.
The personnel would also be checking “ambush marketing” by non-accredited sponsors by any group of spectators especially supporters unions, both local and foreign.
The security agencies through their combined efforts, would also provide adequate security at all vantage points and at all the sites of large screen for the live show of the matches and co-ordinate with other stakeholders before, during and after the matches.
The Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mr P. K. Acheampong, admitted in an interview that the Ghana 2008 tournament would create more security challenges to the police.
He, however, assured the nation that with the comprehensive security management planning in place, supported by the series of training, both locally and abroad, the police would measure up adequately to the task and thereby ensure a successful tournament.
Mr Acheampong reminded the populace that security, peace and safety issues and concerns were no more the preserve of police organisations the world over.
He said policing or security issues were now a shared responsibility between the security services and the community.
“Against this background, therefore, the Police Administration wishes to appeal to all and sundry to see themselves as active stakeholders in providing security for themselves as well as the communities within which they live,” he said.
The Director-General of Operations, Mr Timbillah, appealed to all visiting teams, officials, supporters and tourists to endeavour to respect the laws of the country and not to hesitate to contact the police for any assistance or provide any useful information which would promote peace and a successful tournament.
He said the Sekondi venue was expected to pose the biggest security challenge relative to other match centres because the venue would be hosting next-door neighbours, Benin, Cote d’Ivoire and Nigeria.
Mr Timbillah said as a result, the Central Region had been drafted to support the security operations of Western Region while the Upper East and West regions would support the Northern Regional Command.
He said the other regions had been drafted to support the security operations of the venue nearest them.
He expressed the hope that Ghanaians would continue to display the legendary Ghanaian hospitality, generosity, care and love for the visitors and also cheer up the national team with a high level of decorum and respect the rule of law.
Mr Timbillah urged supporters to submit themselves to searches and desist from smuggling any unauthorised materials into the various stadia.
The acting Ashanti Regional Police Commander, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Seth Oteng, has assured that the police in Kumasi would team up with other security apparatus to provide efficient and effective security to participating players, team officials and soccer fans who would be in Kumasi for the Ghana 2008 tournament to make the event memorable, George Ernest Asare reports from Kumasi
He told the Daily Graphic in an interview that as part of their efforts to enhance security in Kumasi, 500 policemen from the Rapid Deployment Force (RDF) had been specially trained to build their skills to enable them offer effective protection to players, team to officials and spectators who would converge at the Baba Yara Sports Stadium for the Ghana 2008 soccer fiesta.
Elaborating on preparations made so far by the police to enhance adequate security at the Baba Yara Sports Stadium and other parts of the Kumasi Metropolis during the tournament, he said 200 others had also been trained to be in the stands to ensure that sanity prevails during matches.
Such policemen, he said, would be in mufti to prevent any form of identification by the soccer fans and potential troublemakers.
Mr Oteng said the stadium is well equipped with cells and other facilities that would make it possible for the police to arrest and detain anyone who attempts to cause trouble and create any chaos.
He said all the 27 entry points at the stadium would also be manned by policemen and women who would check soccer fans entering the stadium to prevent any form of ticket fraud, possession of offensive weapons and drugs, among others.
“Policemen who would ride on horses would also be at vantage points and streets to offer security to the public during the tournament.
Mr Oteng said they would also be at the training grounds and hotels of the players and team officials to create a serene atmosphere that would enable them to offer their best to make the tournament memorable.
“ We have tested our men and found that they are combat ready to offer the requisite protection that would create a serene atmosphere in Kumasi for the tournament to be very successful and memorable”, he added.
Michael Donkor reports that the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) have mapped out strategies to support the Local Organising Committee of the Ghana 2008 soccer fiesta to make it a success. The GAF has divided its role among its three arms, namely the Ghana Army, the Navy and the Airforce.
Speaking to the Daily Graphic in an interview at Burma Camp in Accra, the Deputy Director of the Ghana Armed Forces Public Relations Unit, Lt. Col. Mbawuni Atintande, said the army would deploy troops at all the stadia and playing grounds where the participating teams would be training to ensure their safety.
He said the army would also provide escort for the officials of the tournament as they travelled across the country while operation “calm life” which seeks to clamp down on the activities of armed robbers would be intensified.
He said the Armed Forces Band would also play the national anthems of Ghana and other participating countries before and after the start of every match.
Lt. Col. Atintande said the 48 Engineers Regiment would display fireworks during the opening and closing ceremonies and the Recce Regiment would also provide horses, some of which would be used for dispersing crowds.
The army, he further stated, would provide medical personnel who would be on standby at all the stadia in case any medical emergencies arise.
He said it was only when the case was very serious and critical that the injured would be carried to the hospital.
Lt. Col. Atintande said the Air Force would provide air transport to carry any casualty to the hospital as well as give support to the army in maintaining security.
The Navy, he said, would also intensify its sea operations to ensure that criminals did not take advantage of the occasion to engage in nefarious activities at sea, while the naval personnel would patrol the territorial waters of the country constantly to ensure security.
He, therefore, called on the public to co-operate with the GAF to ensure that they had an incident-free tournament.


Story: Kofi Yeboah

THE hosting of the 26th Africa Cup of Nations, dubbed “Ghana 2008”, will be a major litmus test for Ghana’s preparedness in the management of emergency health situations on a large scale never imagined before in the history of the country.
In 1963 and 1978, when Ghana hosted the tournament, as well as in 2000 when it co-hosted it with Nigeria, the magnitude of the health challenge was in no way comparable to that of Ghana 2008.
The number of teams, fans, stadia and hotels, the euphoria and, indeed, everything connected with the tournament now is far bigger and better than the previous occasions when Ghana hosted the most glamorous sporting event on the continent.
The sharp change in the dynamics of hosting the tournament now underlines the great expectation of everybody as far as managing emergency situations is concerned.
Aware of such a great expectation, the Local Organising Committee (LOC), in conjunction with the Ministry of Health, has made elaborate preparations to ensure the successful delivery of emergency health care, presto!
In Accra, the host city of Group A teams — Ghana, Morocco, Guinea and Namibia — there are eight designated referral hospitals for the tournament.
These are the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, the Ridge Hospital, the 37 Military Hospital, the Achimota Hospital, the La General Hospital, the Police Hospital, the Tema General Hospital and the Civil Servants Clinic at the Ohene Djan Sports Stadium.
The refurbished 44,000 capacity Ohene Djan Sports Stadium has been demarcated into four areas according to the various stands, each with a medical co-ordinator in charge.
The VIP stand, to be co-ordinated by St John’s Ambulance Service, has been designated to the 37 Military and Ridge Hospitals, implying that any emergency situation that arises at the stands would be referred to the two hospitals.
A centralised public relation desk has been created to co-ordinate all responses to situations that may arise in order to ensure uniformity in the public pronouncements of the medical team.
That arrangement is to avoid a situations where a minor crisis is turned into a major crisis as a result of unguarded statements.
About seven ambulances have been mobilised from various health facilities in Accra for emergency duties at the stadium. Psychological support is also available at the Korle-Bu, Ridge and Police hospitals.
The refurbished Baba Yara Sports Stadium in Kumasi, with a sitting capacity of 44,000, is the venue for Group B teams, namely, Cameroon, Egypt, Zambia and The Sudan.
The city has a health command team made up the Chief Executive Officer of the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH), as well as the Ashanti Regional heads of the Ghana Police Service, the Fire Service, NADMO and the National Security Service.
Between January 2, 2008 and January 7, 2008, 107 health professionals, made up of doctors, nurses, physiotherapists and pharmacists, were trained in life support and emergency care services, at the end of which a simulation exercise was carried out at the stadium to test the readiness of the professionals.
The Intensive Care Unit (ICU), recovery ward, operation room, medical emergency unit and other facilities have been provided at KATH to deal with cases that may occur.
For trauma cases, a team made up of surgeons, neuro surgeons, trauma orthopaedic surgeons and other professionals, are on call 24-hours.
In addition, the region has also established a functional internal communication system to facilitate the operations of health professionals.
“We have put up a 24-hour service, which we have made available at the polyclinics for all visitors who will be visiting Kumasi around that time”, Dr Asare assures the general public.
There will be six ambulances for the assignment. Two of them will always be available during matches at the stadium, two others to be stationed at vantage positions to serve the fans, one to be designated to KATH and another for the KNUST hospital.
In Sekondi-Takoradi in the Western Region, the host city for teams in Group B made up of Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire, Mali and Benin, health professionals in the region have also braced themselves up for the tournament.
All doctors and some other health professionals in the regions have been asked to be on a 24-hour standby throughout the period of the tournament.
Medical teams have been constituted at the various referral hospitals, including Effia Nkwanta Hospital and the VRA Hospital, as well as at vantage locations like the Takoradi airstrip and the newly built Essipon Sports Stadium where the action will take place.
The region is expected to have a complement of four ambulances, which would be manned by nine professionals.
The regional health team, numbering about 300, used the league match between Hasaacas and Real Sportive after the inauguration of the newly built 21,077 capacity Essipon Stadium last Sunday, for a dress rehearsal to test their readiness for the tournament.
Beyond providing emergency services, the medical team is also engaged in public education on sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in view of the expectation that sexual activity within the period will increase.
In spite of the human resource and logistical challenges, medical professionals in the Northern Region have prepared to do their best to ensure a successful tournament.
About 75 medical staff have been trained in emergency response. Thirty six people have also been trained for the NAS, while 60 others from St Johns and Red Cross have also been trained in the provision of first aid.
The medical team has put in place a strategic plan founded on an integrated, well-co-ordinated approach involving all the stakeholders.
A command structure has been established and it involves the head command, the middle command and the ground command, with logistics, supplies, press and information on the sidelines.
The head command is led by the Regional Minister with other members being the regional heads of the Ghana Armed Forces, the Ghana Police Service, the Ghana Fire Service and the Director of Health Services.
One critical issue that the nation has to contend with is that with the mobilisation of human resource and logistics at the disposal of the tournament, very little would be left to cater for the health needs of people within the period.
However, information gathered by the Daily Graphic a few days to the opening of the tournament on Sunday indicates that there are some serious problems that could overwhelm medical personnel in the management of emergencies, unless nothing in the magnitude of a disaster happens.
There are serious human resource and logistical problems at the various referral hospitals in the four cities designated for the tournament.
The problems are inadequate medical staff, medicines, ambulances, communication equipment and other necessities required to deliver efficient health care before, during and after the tournament.
Some of the ambulances assembled for the three-week football fiesta are no better than pick-ups because they are not fixed with equipment to make them worth their name.
Moreover, the medical professionals are yet to receive accreditation for the tournament as of last Monday and that is making it difficult for them to finalise their plans for successful execution.
Motivation is very low. There had not been any arrangement for financial reward for the medical teams as of Monday and even drinks to refresh them during preparatory exercises have been the burden of medical authorities, who accused the LOC of being “stingy” as far as addressing that issue is concerned.
In spite of that, the health professionals, in the national interest, are not contemplating any strike, as they are noted for in matters concerning remuneration for their hard work.
Health facilities in the Northern Region, where teams in Group D, made up of Tunisia, Angola, South Africa and Senegal, will be based, are the worst affected.
The regional health administrators have sent an SOS message for the posting of more staff to support the regional medical team, including 10 general duty doctors, an anaesthetist and two orthopaedic surgeons.

At the moment, there are only two ambulances assigned to the 21,077 capacity newly constructed Tamale Sports Stadium, far less than the minimum complement of five ambulances. There is no X-ray equipment at the Tamale Regional Hospital.
Health officials in the region are not enthused about the fact that although a fully-equiped doping centre has been provided at the stadium, nobody has, as yet, been trained to handle the facilities or conduct a doping test.
In the Western Region, the major problem has been lack of equipment at various health facilities. There are no communication equipment to facilitate activities of the regional medical team.
In Kumasi, expansion works on some facilities at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH), including the Accident and Emergency Centre, have not been completed, although it has been improvised with a recovery ward of 10 beds.
Health officials there say they are fed up with empty promises by the LOC in providing funds.
Even in Accra there are problems of lack of emergency and ward beds in almost all the referral hospitals.
The Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, the Ridge Hospital and the 37 Military Hospital, which are the first-level referral facilities, are all congested.
On the other hand, the Police Hospital, the La General Hospital, the Achimota Hospital, the Tema General Hospital and the Civil Servants Clinic at the stadium, which are required to provide emergency support services, lack the capacity to deal with large cases.
The shortcomings notwithstanding, the health workers have braced themselves up for the task ahead, marshalling all available human resource, the National Ambulance Service (NAS), the Ghana Red Cross Society (GRCS) and the St John’s Ambulance Service.
After a review and harmonisation meeting in Accra last Monday of the health sector in respect of the four host cities, the combat readiness of medical practitioners to provide emergency relief services was very convincing.

GHANA — A WINNER (Page 34)

Story: Mawutodzi K. Abissath

There is this inspirational Tanzanian proverb which says: “He, who trusts in God or Allah, or Mawu or Nyankupong, does not lack anything.” Therefore, all patriotic and faithful Ghanaians who trust in God should please rise, face the geographical East, raise their hands towards heaven and sing praise to the Lord; for Ghana, our beloved country is already a winner for merely hosting the 26th Africa Cup of Nations tournaments (Ghana 2008) slated to kick off on Sunday, January 20, 2008.
Beloved humble and noble fellow Ghanaians, in March 2007, when Ghana was celebrating her Golden Jubilee anniversary, President John Agyekum Kufuor, made a very simple but profound statement which must not be taken for granted. He said, “It is a great time to be Ghanaian!” This writer wishes to implore all Ghanaians to pause for just a moment to concentrate, contemplate and meditate on this simple statement by the President as we embark on the next 50 years journey of our nationhood.
On Thursday, January 10, 2008, the Daily Graphic wrote yet another nationalistic editorial under the heading, “NEW ERA DAWNS WITH GHANA 2008.” That editorial comment was based on an article, titled “Ghana will gain a lot as host,” published on page 16 of that day’s issue. The article itself was based on an interview granted the author, Lucy Adoma Yeboah, by the Minister for Information and National Orientation, Mrs. Oboshie Sai Cofie in Accra.
The purpose of this review is to encourage the media in Ghana, both print and electronic to emulate the example of the Daily Graphic by discussing issues of national interest with some touch of patriotism, especially at this time of the forth coming tournament, no matter what. After all, we have no other nation to call our own. But constructive criticisms are always welcome!
The opening paragraph of the said editorial read: “If there was nothing to be gained from hosting sub-regional, regional and global tournaments, countries would not go to the extent of setting up committees to lobby sporting authorities for the right to host those tournaments.”
The next paragraph went on: “Indeed, countries go all out to build new stadia, rehabilitate existing ones, put new infrastructure and build roads, all at great cost, in order to win the right to host tournaments.”
The paragraph three stated: “Ghana’s hosting of the 26th Africa Cup of Nations tournament (Ghana 2008) cannot be delinked from the benefits that accrue to hosting countries of sporting events.”
The paper continued, “It is in this regard that we agree with the Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mrs. Oboshie Sai Cofie, that Ghana was already ‘the winner of the tournament’ for the mere fact of being the host.”
The fifth paragraph of the editorial quoted the Minister, thus: “Ghanaians should recognise the fact that we have already won in prestige, revenue generation, in showcasing our beautiful country and its people; we have won because of the fact that our children will grow to acknowledge that their country is considered important in the global environment,” Mrs Sai Cofie said in an interview.
Commenting on what the Information Minister had said in the interview, (see page 16 of Daily Graphic of January 10, 2008), the paper wrote: “These are fine sentiments which the Daily Graphic would want every Ghanaian, male and female, young and old, to share, since they capture the very essence of hosting an international tournament of this nature.
“If for nothing at all,” it continued, “The tournament will bring with it commercial and economic gains which will permeate all sectors of the economy, not to talk about the exposure the country will get from TV screening of the matches worldwide, especially the opening and closing ceremonies, the rebranding of the country’s image abroad and potential to the outside world.”
The paper then gave the following advice: “We at the Daily Graphic can only advise our compatriots to put our best foot forward during the period of the tournament, so that our visitors will have a confirmation of the legendary Ghanaian hospitality, culture and tradition.”
Another vital point which Hon Oboshie Sai Cofie made in the interview with Lucy Adoma Yeboah, which, this writer deems imperative to mention here, was that, there was no need for any Ghanaian to feel down-hearted because of one reason or another, “but rather go all out and feel good because the tournament was taking place in Ghana and nowhere else.” The Minister advised that people should stop complaining that there was no excitement in the air, adding that it was left for individuals and groups to come together to create the needed excitement.
The Minister further pointed out that the government had played its part by providing the entire necessary infrastructure for a successful tournament, stressing that, “It is left to us as a people to make the best out of the event.” As a matter of fact it was stated that an amount of $157.2 million had so far been spent on the rehabilitation and construction of four stadia to host the tournament in the country. It was explained that the amount was said to have been exceeded the $152.1 million initially projected by $5. imillion.
It was very refreshing when the Finance and Economic Planning Minister, Hon Kwadwo BaahWiredu, recently stated emphatically in Parliament that it was Ghana Government and for that matter the people of Ghana whose money was used to build the modern stadia for the tournament.
If you are a Ghanaian and you are not proud of this achievement, then what will you be proud of? Everybody knows that the rehabilitated stadia are the Ohene Djan Stadium in Accra and the Baba Yara Stadium in Kumasi, while the newly constructed ones re in Tamale and Sekondi. As was promised by the President when the Ohene Djan Stadium was commissioned recently, all the ten regions of Ghana will have a magnificent modern stadium each in due course.
Furthermore, the Information Minister made a very creative suggestion in her interview with the GRAPHIC that, “If for nothing at all, individual and groups should hang national flags on their property and make the right noises in readiness for the tournament.” She opined that the issue was not about winning but the need to look at other opportunities that would come along with the tournament.
As a matter of fact, if this tournament were to be taking place in any European country or in Nigeria here in Africa, inspiring and motivating noises such as “Oooyee oooyee oye oye ...... would have been on everybody’s lips from January to December non-stop. In Ghana, we should be shouting “GHANA, GHANA, and GHANA OSEE-YIEEEEE!!!!”and “BLACK STARS, BLACK STARS, BLACK STARS, OSEE-YIEEEEE! !“ from now until the hour the covetous trophy is handed over to the winner of the 16 participating African countries.
This author would want to add his voice to those of the Hon Information Minister and the Daily Graphic, which Ghanaians must be proud of being Ghanaians and be grateful and thankful to God that they are Ghanaians There are many nations in Africa and beyond whose citizens wish they were Ghanaians.
With Ghana’s oil discovery in commercial quantity within this same period in the history of our beloved country, the sky cannot even be the limit for the prosperity of Ghanaians in the next 50 years. Ghana indeed, is poised to become a glorious land on the continent of Africa. As for Ghana 2008 tournament, we all pray that the gallant Black Stars will lift the trophy at stake. But whether they win or not GHANA IS A WINNER by merely hosting the tournament.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

LAURENT POKOU ...African Cup of Nations All-Time Top Scorer

One of the legends of African Football is POKOU LAURENT who set an all-time recprd of 14 goals in. the African Nation Cup in the 1960s and 1970s. CFI correspondent PETER LAW writes on this immaculate striker from Vote d’Ivoire whose record may be difficult to equal for modern-day strikers....

WHILE the likes of Eusebjo, Wharton ar~d ~3en Barek spent most of their fon*balljn~ ~ in Europe, Laurent Pokou played a larger section ef his career in Africa, and was one player who could truly he said to have set the African Nations Cup alight with his goalscoring exploJts for the Elephants of Cote d’Ivoire, although never finishing, a winner.
Born into a large family in the Ivorian capital, Abidjan, in February 1947, the young Laurent grew up with a football as his constant companion through his school days. Signing his first player’s license at nine years old withASEC Abidj an, the youn1 Laurent developed his genre, emerging from street ootball as an exciting forward who showed promise in front of goal.
Moving to Bouake for a time in 1962, he played with USRAN, quickly establishing a reputation as the best forwar a er in the region. Word spread back
particularly back to ASEC, who wasted no -time in bringing Pokou back to the capital. Trainer Wognin already hard one prolific forward in Eustace Mangle, and linking him up with the ~ oung Pokou proved to e an inspired move. ASEC won the first league championship in 1964 led by their new strike force, earning:
Mangle a striking place in the national, team preparing for their Nations Cup debut in Tunisia.
National team handler Gevaudan callea up Mangle, who scored a fine hat trick in a 3-0 win over Congo Kinshasa (now Congo DR) on his debut in the. competition, but chose to leave young Pokou at home. With no World I Cup qualifying action due to the African withdrawaf from the 1966 qualifiers, it was not until the Ethiopia ‘68 Nations Cup that Pokou first tasted a major tournament with the Elephants. Having dumped Nigeria out of. the qualifiers, the side arrived in Ethiopia as. outsiders, with their first opponents, Algeria, considered the favourites to carry off the title defended by Ghana.
Scoring in either half, Pokou helped his team to an impressive 6-0 victory on his finals debut, then. failed to score against the host in a 1-0 defeat. However~ against Uganda in Addis Ababa, both Pokou and Mangle scored in a 2-1 victory that was good enough to ensure progress to the semi-final. That year, both semis produced classic drama with Zaire defeating the host 3-2 in extra time, while the Elephants faced off against the .holders, Ghana’s famous. Black Stars. Trailing by 0-1 at the break, back came the Elephants who forced the game into overtime before going down by 4-3, Pokou scoring two goals to take his tally to~ five.
Meeting - hosts Ethiopia once again for the third place, a single goal by the now inevitable Pokou won the game and the medals for his teair~ Watching scouts at the tournament had just one name at the top of their lists after the tournament, that of the tall, slim Ivorian striker who finished as six goal topscorer at his first finals. ASEC realised that they would have to fight to retain their prize possession with a pose of foreign clubs declaring an interest, headed by Marseille and Nantes from France. Pokous time was not coming with a vengeance.
However Pokou -remained with ASEC, winning the Ivorian Cup three times in succession — 1967, 1968 and 1969, while in the league the club were unable to break the predominance of city rivals SteTh d’Abidjan and Africa Sports despite Pokou’s scoring feats.
‘While life in domestic football was not always paved with success, Pokou continued to shine with the Elephants. Some months after the Ethiopia ‘68 Nations Cup finals, German trainer Peter Schnigger arrived to coach the Elephants and adopted a more attacking policy. With Kallet, the playmaker, in a 4-2-4 formation, and Pokou the goalscoring destroyer, the side breezed past Mali (Pokou himself grabbing a hat trick) to qualify for another crack at the Nations Cup in Sudan.
His first Nations Cup finals had been productive, his second finals proved a ‘tour de force’ and proved that this man was no short term wonder. From the opening match against Cameroun in Khartoum, Pokou chased goals. Two first half strik~s put the Elephants 2-0 up at the break against Cameroun, who managed to come back to win a thrilling match 3-2. Two days later, the Elephants defeated the host Sudan by 1-0 to keep hopes of advancement alive, which rested with the final group game against Ethiopia. lVfengistou and his teammates turned around at halftime trailing by 2-1 with Pokou scoring the second Ivorian goal.~ There must have been something in the halftime drink that agreed with Pokou for, in the second half, he went out and struck four more goals to round off a 6-1 win, finishing with a five-goal haul, something never subsequently beaten at the Nations Cu p finals.
That win was enough to send the Elephants into the semis, where they once again met neighbours Ghana in another classic which needed extra time to separate the sides. For once “Pok” failed to get on the scoresheet as the Anglophone side prevailed on a 2-1 scoreline. A late goal in the third-place showdown with Egypt was not enough to win a medal as Egypt’s Chalzly (another prolific strik&r) had already nabbed a hat-trick, but left Pokou having shattered his own six goal tally of 1968 and finishing with a new record of eight goals in the finals or in total, 14 goals at just two finals series.
Returning home as a huge star, his form remained constant in helping his club ASEC to complete a league and cup double in the 1970 season, just the second league title for the Mimosas. With the new awards of “African Foothaller of the Year introduced by the French ma azine “France Footbail~ up and running for 1970. Pokou collected 24 votes, only to be well beaten into second place by Salif Keita, Saint Etienne’s Malian sensa- -tion who had not even appeared in the Nations Cup that year, and yet grabbed the majority of the nominations.
The threat of injury is ever-prevalent for an established game striker and in the Abidjan derby against arch rivals Africa Sports, Pokou suf fered a bad knee injury, colliding with the oppo ing keeper, while cha ing a goal. Transported to Lyon,~ France, he made a slow and painful recovery.
Without him, ASEC finished the se son trophyless, the first Champions Cup entry ending in the semi-final against C~inon Yaounde, while the Elephants were removed in the qualifiers for the Cameroun ‘72 Nations Cup by Congo who went on to win the title. Pokou’s absence. had a negative effect for both club and country.
Showing his determination, Laurent bounced back to resume his terrorism upon the opposing defenders, helping~ ASEC to a position of dominance on the domestic scene. One reward was selection for the African team that went to Brazil in May of 1972 to compete in a Mini World Cup, but the trip was both long and problematic, the side winning just once in the final game against
Colombia. Pokou
inevitably scored the opening goal in a 3-0 victory but it was his only joy from the tournament where he played in all four games. In both 1972 and 1973, ASEC were back to championship and cup doubles, but were unable to follow that by making progress in the Champions Cup. Hafia of Conakry eroded hopes in 1973, ensuring that Pokou would never appear in a continental final.
Since the 1968 Nations Cup, scouts had been chasing “Pok” with growing desire, yet the star man remained loyal to ASEC despite all the offers. Then finally a transfer to France was put in p lace.
In a e December of 1973, Pokou made his final appearance with the Mimosas, commencing his, professional career with Stade de Rennes in the French first division. However within months, he was• called away from his new club to lead the Elephants attack in the 1974 Nations Cup in Cairo.
Cote dIvoire found themselves without their star striker for theii first two games, which ended in a loss and a draw. Facing the hosts in their final group outing, Pokou returned as skipper, but was unable to inspire his teammates who surrendered by 2-0. For once, his finals had finished without a single goal to show for his efforts. Moreover, he could only admire the new scorip’~ sensation N’diaye p Zaire who shattered hieight goal finals record I by hitting nine in Egypt.
Back at Rennes, the club finished in midtable but the very next season, found themselves rele-[ gated. Often the victim~ of rough marking, Pokou was frequently out of action recovering from the inevitable battering that he took as part of the job. Winning promotion the next season Pokou was part of I
Second Division I
Champions in season’ ‘75/76, but soon found~ himself transferring to Nantes, playing in a side I that contained a young
and emerging Michel Platini. Still troubled bS’ injuries, his career at Nantes was brief, and within a year, Pokou was back with Rennes. -However, it was not to
prove a happy return, finding himself involved in an argument with a refetee, which ended with Pokou assaulting the-official.
A two year ban was the result of his actions and disillusion with the professional game set in, Unable to play in France,’ the Pokou family found themselves back in Abidjan once again. Returning to ASEC for a second spell, the great striker was no longer the man who had departed back in 1973. Now into his 30s, injury had taken its toll upon one of Africa’ brightest talents, but even at 33 years of age, this man was not finished.
Whilst Pokou was away in France, the Elephants failed to qualify for the 1976 and 1978 Nations Cup finals and after a six-year absence from the finals, Laurent returned to the squad for the Nigria 1980 final series.
However, there was to be no happy ending, nor any more goals to add to his grand tally. His fourth and final Nations Cup in Nigeira saw him start the opening match in defeat agailnst Egypt before finding himself as a substitute for the encounter with the hosts. Unable to find a goal in the goalless draw, he found himself left out of the final game with Tanzania as the side made an early departure.
The Ivorians only made their first World Cup entry in the 1974 qualifiers, Pokou adding goals as the side went to the penultimate round in both 1974 (ended by Morocco) and 1978, when Nigeria proved the victors. With no Olympic final possibilities, Pokou’s true fame in world football was somewhat stifled, his greatest days coming when little outside attention was paid to African football, and not too much made it on film. Pokou’s currency was goals, his game lethal in finishing both with his feet and also renowned for his ability with his head. While his record is not too well documented, he certainly wrote his name large in two classic Nations Cups of 1968 and 1970.
Winding down his career with his beloved ASEC, “Pok” later moved into coaching, passing on his knowledge to the young footballers, and enjoying a degree of success in his new employ.
As a player/coach, he helped Rio sports of Anyama to promotion to the top flight, later taking over an Union Sportif of Yamoussoukro. Even with his playing days over, there was still a dep love for the game, still plenty to pass to others, and in his native country strikers will always be compared to this great, the first of a line of excellent stars from the small West African country that continues today.
Laurent Pokou wrote a distinguished chapter into the annals of Ivorian football, and left his indelible imprint upon the Nations Cup record books. Nobody since has eclipsed his 14-goals record, although Nigerian Rashidi Yekini is one goal behind him on 13 final goals while the like of his compatriots Youssef Fofana, Joel Teihi and Abdoulaye Traore followed in his wake, but never bettered his achievements.
Although he never was a Nations Cup winner, nor won any African title with ASEC or even played at the World Cup finals, Pokou’s exploits are still legendary in his native country. His professional caraeer perhaps came too late to maximise upon his success and he never won the African Footballeer of the Year title. Regrets, yes there were a few, but these were far overshadowed by the positive he left.
To Laurent Pokou, respect is due.


• Below is the Daily Graphic report of 2nd December, 1963, on the Black Stars maiden victory in the Nations Cup tournament which was staged in Accra.

THREE-TIME champions of West Africa. Now Ghana has ascended the continental soccer throne of Africa after beating Sudan 3-0 in the Africa Nations Cup final at Accra Sports Stadium yesterday.
After an uneventful first half, during which there was nothing to choose between the two finalists, Ghana asserted herself and played more purposeful football in the second half .
And the man who brought life into game was “Little Bird” Ofei Dodoo who played a brilliant game after he had taken over from Leonard Acquah in the second half.
The TUC men — Mfum and Acquah — pressed hard in the 62nd minute. The Sudanese panicked and in a desperate effort to ward off a typical Black Stars attack, a defence player of Sudan handled the ball in his own half.
Skipper Aggrey Fynn beat Keeper Sabit with a carpet shot from the spot kick to put Ghana ahead.
Then Ofei Dodoo clicked. He raced through the Sudanese defence like a jet liner and centred twice for match winner Edward Acquah to increase the score to 3-0.
Ghana plunged into the attack right from kick off and forced a corner kick.
The Sudanese soon found their feet and for a brief spell put the Stars under great pressure. The Stars hit back and a perfect combination among the soccer Trojan — Edward Acquah, Leonard Acquah and Mfum — found Salisu, who sent in a crashing shot. Keeper Sabit could not save it but there was nobody to connect so Ghana lost an opportunity to take the lead.
The Sudanese were very fast and they used their usual long passes to advantage. Their goal-conscious forwards were very business-like and, unlike the Stars, they delivered shots from all angles.
By the 30th minute, the Stars seemed to be out of the game. The forward line failed to click and I think Leonard Acquah was the cause. He played below form and apart from spoiling the combination, he went about pushing people and was always at the offside
Second Half
Dodoo replaced Leonard Acquah in the second half and he certainly brought new lift into the game.
As usual, Ofei was very fast at the right wing and he fed the two goal merchants — Acquah and Mfum — well.
The game was very fast, with the Stars slightly on top. They combined effectively and their usual soccer artistry began to show results. The pressure was great on the visitors and a Sudanese defender, in a desperate attempt to stop an Ofei-Acquah-Mfum move, handled the ball in the “18”.
A penalty kick was awarded and Skipper Aggrey Fynn scored to give Ghana the much needed lead in the 62nd minute.
You could imagine the sort of applause that greeted that goal. Everybody was on his feet.
The crowd cheered wildly. The Stars really got inspiration from that goal and they pinned the Sudanese to their own half of the field.
The stadium rocked again with thunderous cheers in the 72nd minute when Edward Acquah hit the net after receiving a neat pass from right winger Dodoo.
The Stars took full control of the game from that moment and they toyed with the Sudanese.
Dodoo, who played great game, tapped a loose ball from Mfum and I knew a goal was in the making.
He outwitted the entire Sudanese with a body swerve, worked this way through the touchline and sent in a perfect pass to Acquah who scored to give Ghana a third goal in the 82nd minute.
Stars line-up: Dodoo Ankrah, Crenstil, Oblitey, Ben Simmons, Addo Odametey, Aggrey Fynn, Ofei Dodoo, Kwame Adarkwa, Edward Acquah, Wilberforce Mfum, Mohammed Salisu.

• Below is KEN BEDIAKO’S report in the Daily Graphic of 17th March 1978, on the Black Stars second victory on HOME SOIL in the Nations Cup tournament.

THE Cranes of Uganda left the shores of Ghana last night with sweet memories, for they were here when history was born.
Not only that. The Cranes were co-actors in a drama which saw the Black Stars of Ghana win the Africa Nations Cup trophy outright and set the AFC the task of replacing yet another continental trophy.
Hafia of Guinea won the African clubs cup for keeps in Conakry on December 18, last year, and Ghana’s feat is incidentally exactly four months later — March 18.
“We are the Brazil of Africa,” fans began to chant after the Stars clear-cut 2-0 victory over Uganda last Saturday. This is an obvious reference to Brazil’s feat in winning the Jules Rimet Trophy for good in the 1970 World Cup in Mexico.
But the difference here is that Brazil won the cup when it was universally accepted, even two years to the time of the competition, that they were the best in the world. That was when Brazil could boast of the Peles, Jairs, Tostaos and Carlos Albertos.
One can hardly say this of the Black Stars. Not even the most fanatical Ghanaian soccer fan could imagine six months ago that players like Kyenkyenhene, Quaye, Yawson, Carr, just to mention a few, could face the strains of the Africa Cup final and come out triumphant.
But here you are in the 21st year of the Africa Cup competition and on Ghana’s 21st birthday these unsung heroes rose to the occasion to emulate the fine examples set by Aggrey-Fynn, Addo Odametey and their contemporaries in 1963 and 1965.
No doubt the government was so impressed that three military helicopters were at the stadium to fly the players and officials from the stadium to the Burma Camp where the Head of State held a reception for them.
Fittingly, it was the pace and artistry of Opoku Afriyie, a name synonymous with so many important goals for the Black Stars, which set Ghana on the road to victory in the titanic cup final. He scored both goals.
The opener came after 38 minutes of a battle of nerves and sinews. Full back Paha had been hurt and just as Offei Ansah had appeared on the field to take over, Kyenkyenhene ballooned a high clearance.
The ball went to the industrious Afriyie, whose delicate chip arched just underneath the bar, beating the entire Uganda defence plus the goalie, who had taken two steps forward.
The second goal came 19 minutes inside the second half. It was a perfectly weighted cross from Razak which set Opoku Afriyie free in the middle.
He tore at the heart of the Ugandan defence and with a deep incisive run, cheekily whisked the ball beyond the advancing goalie.
These two goals apart, Afriyie could have got a couple more in this epic final in which both sides showed no signs of fatigue.
Ghana’s version of the legendary German goal manufacturer, Gerd Muller, Afriyie was a constant threat to the polished Uganda defence. Supported by Polo and Razak’s intelligent running, Afriyie always had the Ugandans vulnerable to probes down the middle.
The game was only 23 seconds old when Afriyie openly broke loose and hit the post with a powerful left footer. The rebound went to Yawson, but he shot wide. A minute later, Afriyie went down but he was flagged offside. The Cranes quickly repulsed the Stars’ onslaught and in the fourth minute left winger Fred Isabiryi tested Carr with a ground shot. There was plenty of action.
Polo, still trying to find his own rhythm, beat two men on the run and centred for Afriyie, who appeared undecided right in the box and fumbled with a good scoring chance.
Ghana forced two corner kicks in the seventh and eighth minutes to no avail and it was the visitors who, combining effectively, went ahead in the 14th minute.
Danger Man Philip Omondi, who was neatly pocketed by wing half Quaye, nearly capitalised on a defensive blunder.
Play was even with both sides settling down to constructive football, and until Afriyie’s curtain raiser in the 38th minute there was hardly anything to choose between the two sides.
The Stars had a chance of consolidating their lead only 14 seconds after the recess. A toss from the left flank sailed over a sea of heads and went straight to Anas. With only the goalie to beat, everybody expected the ball to be dancing in the net but, Anas, panicking, shot wide.
Four minutes later, Yawson also had the chance to increase Ghana’s lead but his close range shot hit the side netting.
Let off the hook, the visitors hit back fiercely and in a brilliant three-man move, inside left Godfrey Kisitu stretched Carr with a powerful low grounder.
That was a cup final by all standards. Teamwork on both sides was superb, no wonder the game continued to be in the balance for a very long time. Goal-scoring chances were becoming difficult to get and that was why when Yawson threw away a chance after a fine connection from Afriyie in the 57th minute, the crowd did not take it kindly.
Kayode took over from Anas in the 60th minute. He brought more speed into the attack and it was four minutes after his inclusion that Afriyie got the second goal, which turned out to be the very last.
“Welcome to the final of the 11th Africa Cup of Nations, Ghana 1978. May the best team win.” That was the message on the electronic scoreboard before the kick-off.
Yes, the best team — the Black Stars — did win.
With four wins and a draw, nine goals with only two against, in a competition of this nature, Ghana deserves the accolade of Africa’s Super Champions
Ghana: Joseph Carr, Isaac Paha/Ofei Ansah, Awuley Quaye, Kuuku Dadzie, Kyenkyenhene, Nketia Yawson, Anas Seidu /Kayode, Opoku Afriyie, Abdul Razak, Mohammed Polo.
UGANDA: Sali, Paul Simwange, Musenge, Lwanga, Kwinda, Kiganda, Nasur, Nsereko/Kansinge, Omondi, Kisitu, Isaberyi.

1957 TO 2006 — 10 HAVE HOSTED AND WON

• Since the tournament was instituted in 1957, it has been won 10 times by host countries — Ethiopia 1962, Ghana — 1963 & 1978, Sudan — 1970, Nigeria — 1980, Egypt — 1986 & 2006 Algeria — 1988, South Africa — 1996, and Tunisia — 2004.
Below is the story of the competition through the years as presented by EMMANUEL AMOAKO

1957 — THE SUDAN

WHEN The Sudan hosted the first Africa Cup of Nations, it was a miniature showpiece whose magnitude today could not have been predicted.
Only three teams played in that maiden edition — Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia — the founding members of CAF. South Africa should have been the fourth team but apartheid politics meant CAF rejected a non-multiracial team. Egypt, the country that had virtually been at the forefront at the World Cup and the Olympics, dominated the tournament.
The Pharaohs won the trophy by dominating Sudan and Ethiopia. The hosts lost 2-1 and Ethiopia lost 4-0 in the last match of the tournament. Egyptian hero, Ad-Diba, scored all the four goals.

1959 — EGYPT

The defending champions started where they left off two years earlier — Ethiopia lost 4-0 in the opening game. The tournament was contested by the same three teams.
This time, after Sudan had beaten Ethiopia by a lone goal, the stage was set for a tense final match with the Egyptians.
The Sudanese, by all means, aimed at avenging the humiliating defeat suffered in Khartoum. But the Egyptians were too strong for them. However, it was a grovelling encounter as Egypt had to wait until the 89th minute when Islam’s second goal edged out Sudan 2-1. For the second time, the Abdelaziz Abdallah Salem trophy stayed in Cairo.


Significantly, the tournament had four nations, but with newcomers Tunisia and Uganda, who joined Egypt and Ethiopia. Sudan were absent. The formula was changed to a knockout and a grand final.
Ethiopia celebrated a great victory over Tunisia, winning 4-2. In the other match, Egypt came from a goal down in the first half to beat Uganda 2-1. The stage was then set for a dream final between the hosts and defending champions. Before the final, Uganda lost 3-0 to Tunisia in the third-place match.
To dethrone the Pharaohs was always going to be a tall order, but Ethiopia had the home support to make history.
First, the hosts were shocked by Badauli’s 35th minute goal. Girma equalised late in the second-half, but just in the space of a minute Badaui silenced the stadium again.
Six minutes before the end, striker Menguistou sent the game to extra time. Italo turned the tide in the first 15 minutes and Menguistou second sealed the Pharaoh’s fate.

1963 — GHANA

The presence of two more teams increased participation to six from four. For the first time also, the tournament was played in two cities — newcomers and host Ghana headed the Accra group, while the Kumasi group involved Egypt, Sudan and freshers Nigeria.
The winners of each group were to play the final after playing on a league basis.
Ghana won their group, dominating Ethiopia and Tunisia. It was a tougher scenario in Kumasi where Sudan progressed to the final, crushing Nigeria 4-0.
Sudan, with far more experience in the competition, played a Ghanaian side preparing to rule the continent.
The host side triumphed 3-0, but it was not an easy final as the scoreline would suggest.

1965 — TUNISIA

Ghana successfully defended their title in Tunisia. The Tunisians spread the tournament in four major cities — Sousse, Bizerte and Sfax, in addition to the capital. Ghana began the countdown with a 5-2 defeat of Congo. Ivory Coast also crashed to the Black Stars.
The competition did not change its format from the previous edition. Tunisia won their group match with an emphatic 4-0 win over Ethiopia. Apart from Ivory Coast and Congo, Senegal were also making their first appearance.
In the previous tournaments, the host nations had prevailed, apart from the maiden edition in 1957. Tunisia disappointed their home fans as the Black Stars pipped them 3-2, with Odoi’s extra-time goal in the final.


The tournament was back to Ethiopia after only four years.
This time eight teams were in the finals, Algeria and Zaire making their debut appearances.
Algeria, with a great player like Lamas, were in Group A, involving Ethiopia, Uganda and Ivory Coast. Zaire played alongside Ghana, Senegal and Congo in Asmara, the base of Group B.
Both semi-finals of 1968 were settled in extra time. Ghana won theirs 4-3 against Ivory Coast, while the hosts were sent packing by a strong Zairean squad, led by Peirre Kalala.
In a classic final at the Addis Ababa Stadium, Kalala’s 66th minute goal engraved a new name in the table of winners.

1970 — THE SUDAN

The same number of teams was maintained, just as was the previous formula.
Sudan, at the time, found themselves drawn into an easy-looking group with old rivals Ethiopia, Ivory Coast and Cameroon, who were playing their first competition. That was the prediction, but apart from the 3-0 trouncing of Ethiopia, the host lost to Ivory Coast in the second game. The Ivorians won 1-0 with a last-minute shock goal.
The defeat put immense pressure on the team coached by Jiri Starosta from Czechoslovakia. Victory in the last match of the group against Cameroon (2-1) virtually earned them a place in the semi-finals.
At the other venue in Wad Medani, Group B was stuffed with three champions, Ghana, Egypt and Zaire, the 1968 winners.
First, Ghana took revenge over the Zairians for losing the 1968 final by winning 2-0, but drawing 1-1 with Egypt and Guinea.
The defending champions lost another two points to Egypt. The 1-0 score threw the Pharaohs into a semi-final clash with Sudan — a match they would have loved to avoid, before Sudan could celebrate after extra time. Both sides finished normal time 1-1, then two late goals in the 83rd and 84th minutes put the sides level.
Ghana had an easy affair against Ivory Coast, too. Malik Jabir’s 100th minute strike sailed the Black Stars to a fourth consecutive final.
Ghana lost the final 1-0, just as they did in the previous tournament.

Half the participants played as debutantes. Morocco were fresh from the Mexico World Cup finals of 1970, but Togo, Kenya and Mali were considered as complete underdogs.
The home side played against Kenya, Togo and Mali. However, things were tight for the hosts. Malik didn’t win a match but joined Cameroon with their three draws.
Morocco also drew all their group games in Douala. Unfortunately, Congo scored more goals. Congo never looked like potential champions from the start. Surprisingly, though, they eliminated Cameroon 1-0 in the semi-finals. Mali also caused an upset over Zaire in the other semi-final. Despite Mali taking the lead, Congo won the final 3-2.

1974 — EGYPT
This time Zaire was Africa’s Team of the Moment, The Leopards (now Simba) were heading for the World Cup finals in Germany. Zambia and, strangely, Mauritius were in the competition for a first outing.
For Mauritius, it was a hard experience, packing out with three defeats. It was the contrary for Zambia who qualified for the semi-finals, though the hosts had a good bite, winning 3-1.
Zaire, Guinea, Congo, Ivory Coast and Uganda were the other teams.
Zaire ended the hopes of Egypt winning a third trophy semi-final encounter which Zaire won 3-2.
Zambia, likewise, pulled another surprise by eliminating defending champions, Congo, 4-2 after extra-time.
After Zambia and Zaire played a 2-2 after extra time in the final, penalty kicks were not introduced to decide the winner. Instead, there was a reply which the World Cup-bound Zairians won 2-0.

A new formula was introduced — a round-robin format for the two groups, with the two top teams meeting for another round-robin stage. The team with the highest points won the tournament.
Ethiopia, Uganda, Egypt and Guinea played in the Addis-Ababa group, while Nigeria, Zaire, Morocco and Sudan engaged one another in the other city, Dire Dawa.
Guinea, Morocco, Nigeria and Egypt qualified for the second round to decide the champions.
The final scheduled match between Guinea and Morocco proved to be a crucial one and was referred to as the grand final.
The Guineans had to win if they should carry the trophy and Morocco needed only a draw. Destiny brightly went Morocco’s way as they scrambled for a late equaliser to take the trophy to North Africa after 17 years.

1978 — GHANA
The 1976 method of justifying a winner did not appeal to many and the old formula was restored.
Upper Volta were the only new boys; the rest were experienced partakers: Ghana, Zambia, Nigeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Uganda and Congo.
Ghana and Nigeria got to the last four from their group, while Uganda and Tunisia, Africa’s World Cup representative that year, proceeded from their group.
After four appearances, Uganda reached the final for the first time, beating Nigeria 2-1 in the semis.
Ghana had a difficult match with Tunisia. The North Africans lot 1-0 and marched off the pitch before the final whistle.
Uganda gave a good account of themselves in the final, but Ghana were by far worthy champions to retire the A. A. Salem trophy.

1980 — NIGERIA
The Green Eagles of Nigeria, moulded as a winning team, had home advantage in one of the toughest Nations Cup finals.
Tanzania participated for the first time. The other teams present were Egypt, Ivory Coast, Algeria, Morocco, Ghana, Guinea.
Nigerian won all their group matches and Egypt joined them in the semi-finals. From the other group playing in Ibadan, Morocco and Algeria were the qualifiers.
Morocco lost 1-0 to the hosts and Algeria beat Egypt 4-2 on penalties after a 2-2 draw in 120 minutes. Nigeria won the final against Algeria 3-0 to make them the first to clinch the newly unveiled ‘African Unity Cup’.

1982 — LIBYA
Libya, the only new team among the eight finalists, were the hosts. In their Tripoli group they played Ghana (2-2), Cameroon (0-0) and beat Tunisia 2-0. In Benghazi, Algeria, Zambia, Nigeria, Ethiopia were in Group B.
Ghana beat Algeria 3-2 after extra-time in the first semi-final, while Libya struggled to the final with a 2-1 win over Zambia.
The Black Stars were crowned champions for the fourth time, beating the hosts 7-6 on penalties.

Malawi played in the final for the first time. They lost two games to Ghana and Algeria but recorded a memorable draw against Nigeria.
This tournament was among the best. Algeria and Cameroon had returned from a remarkable World Cup trip in Spain. Nigeria was in great form, likewise the Pharaohs of Egypt.
The shock of the tournament was Ghana’s elimination in round one.
The semi-finals had a classic pairing. Nigeria came from 2-0 down to eliminate Egypt on penalties. And the two World Cup finalists Algeria and Cameroon played goalless and penalties went 5-4 in favour of the Indomitable Lions.
Then Cameroon went on to show class in a 3-1 win over Nigeria to claim a first title.

1986 — EGYPT
After waiting over two decades, Egypt won their third Nations Cup. But it all began with a shock 1-0 defeat by Senegal. Mozambique, the newcomers, and Ivory Coast were in that same group.
Cameroon and Morocco made it to the finals from the Alexandria group. Zambia and Algeria were beaten for the two slots after a tough fight. Cameroon were in the final again to retain the trophy after Roger Milla’s lone goal eliminated Ivory Coast in the semi-finals. Egypt also qualified for the final by the same goal margin. Cameroon lost their crown 5-4 on penalties.

1988 — MOROCCO
Morocco staged the tournament following Zambia’s last-minute withdrawal to hold it.
It was another exciting tournament as African teams came of age. Morocco, in particular, had done Africa proud by qualifying for the World Cup’s second round.
Morocco’s group, which also involved Ivory Coast, Algeria and Zaire, was explosive. At the end of the group matches officials had to toss a coin between Ivory Coat and Algeria to decide who was to join Morocco in the semi-finals — Algeria had mother luck on their side. In the other group, Cameroon and Nigeria won the semi-final places, leaving Kenya and Egypt in the cold of despair.
A marathon penalty shoot-out saw Nigeria in the final. After a 1-1 draw, Nigeria won 9-8 in the shoot-out.
Cameroon tamed the hosts with Makanaky’s 79th-minute strike. The Cameroonians beat Nigeria 1-0 in the final from Emmanuel Kunde’s 55th minute penalty.

1990 — ALGERIA
For the Algerians, winning the cup was a matter of honour or death. To many of the Algerian stars, it was the perfect way of hanging their boots.
Egypt sent a second-rated team after tension with Algeria during the World Cup qualifiers.
Cameroon, who were also heading for Italia ’90, never convinced, losing to Senegal and Zambia. Kenya also played in that group.
Algeria swept past their group, but despite the 5-1 defeat over Nigeria, the Green Eagles made it to the semi-finals. Ivory Coast and Egypt bowed out.
The host nation beat Senegal 2-1 in a match full of spectacle and suspense. In the other match, Nigeria blasted two goals past Zambia.
So, Algeria met Nigeria again. However, the Nigerian caused anxious moments for the Desert Warriors. It was Chief Oudjani’s goal that eventually separated the two teams and Algeria’s first triumph.

1992 — SENEGAL
The CAF enlarged the tournament to 12 teams and four groups of three teams each.
After a long absence, Ghana were back but thrown into the group of death that comprised Egypt and Zambia. There were no newcomers. And the defending champions, Algeria, were disgracefully eliminated in the group stage.
The group stage was to be followed by quarter-finals, semi-finals, play-off and final. The knockout stages proved exciting, but it was a surprise to see Cote d’Ivoire in the final. If not for Abedi’s suspension from the match, probably the Ivorians would not have gone on to win 11-10 on penalties.

1994 — TUNISIA
Tunisia prepared the squad lavishly, playing European opposition in friendlies. From the results against Holland and Germany, expectation was high among the home fans. The tournament maintained the same number of teams. Sierra Leone and Gabon were the freshers. Tunisia bowed out after a humiliating defeat in the hands of modest Mali. They also drew 1-1 in a do-or-die clash with Zaire.
Cote d’Ivoire marvelled a lot with their football and Zambia were on the threshold of recovering after a plane crash had killed several of their best players. Nigeria was the greatest force in Tunisia. The Super Eagles were in the same group with Egypt and Gabon. Senegal and Guinea lined up against the Black Stars.
The Black Stars bowed out from a 2-1 defeat by rival neighbours Cote d’Ivoire. Mali upset the form books by beating Egypt 1-0, also in the quarter-finals.
The highlight of the semi-finals was that between the Ivorians and Nigeria. The Super Eagles came from behind twice to qualify for the final on post-game penalties.
Nigeria struggled in the later part of the match against Zambia but the World Cup-bound Super Eagles deservedly clinched their second title 2-1 in the El-Menzah Stadium.

South Africa stepped into the shoes of Kenya to host the tournament. For millions of South Africans their national team’s victory at the 20th Nations Cup played a significant role to unite the nation — once the seat of apartheid politics.
The 20th tournament was increased to 16 finalists. The hosts spread the games across four cities: Johannesburg, Port Elizabeth, Durban and Bloemfontein.
Angola and Liberia were in their first competition.
But, most important ,the defending companions, Nigeria, boycotted following a political row between Abuja and Pretoria.
The Eagles’ absence poses the nagging question as to whether South Africa would have won the cup so easily.
Cameroon and Cote d’Ivoire were the biggest casualties, while Gabon left a great impression. Tunisia lost the final 2-0 to the Bafana Bafana.


For the first time in the history of the competition, Burkina Faso played host to the 16 qualified teams in the 21st edition of the tournament.
The matches were played in Ouagadougou and Bobo-Dioulasso. Groups A and B were based in Ouagadougou while Groups C and D were based in Bobo-Dioulasso.
Namibia made their first appearance in the tournament and could only manage a draw in the three group matches they played. They lost the other two and finished last in their group.
Host nation, Burkina Faso, put in everything in their quest to win the competition for the first time but their best was not good enough. They emerged fourth, losing 4-1 on penalties to Congo Kinshasha after drawing 4-4 in regulation time.
But before then, they had managed to push out Tunisia 8-7 on penalties after a gruelling 1-1 in one of the high points of the competition.
At the end of it all, Egypt emerged winners, beating defending champions, South Africa, 2-0, thereby equalling Ghana’s four-time winning record.


Ghana and Nigeria stepped into the shoes of Zimbabwe to co-host the tournament. The hosting right was taken from Zimbabwe on February 15, 1999, and on March 15, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) selected Ghana and Nigeria as co-hosts. It was the first time two countries were to co-host the tournament.
In Ghana, matches were played in Accra and Kumasi while Nigeria also chose Kano and Lagos as venues. Groups A and B were based in Ghana while Groups C and D were based in Nigeria.
Ghana was knocked out of the tournament at the quarter-final stage of the competition by South Africa but co-hosts, Nigeria, managed to squeeze into the final after disposing of Senegal and South Africa in the quarter-final and semi-final respectively.
They came face to face with Cameroun in the final and what a titanic match it turned out to be. The two teams were at level terms after a pulsating 120 minutes — having scored two goals apiece thus forcing the game to be decided on the tie-breaking penalty kicks.
The Camerounians, who have always been a thorn in the flesh of Nigeria in the history of this tournament, came out with flying colours again — winning 4-3 — before a stunned crowd at the Surulere Stadium.

2004 — TUNISIA

The tournament moved to North Africa and saw Tunisia playing host for the third time — the previous occasions being in 1965 and 1994 when they failed to make a mark in the competition.
The Tunisians were, however, not to be a third time lucky. After topping their group at the end of first round matches, they moved into the quarter-finals where they conquered Senegal.
The semi-final stage was not that easy. They settled for a 1-1 draw with Nigeria at the end of stipulation time and only managed to get through 5-3 on penalties.
The final turned out to be an all-North African affair as they took on Morocco. At the end of the day, the Tunisians made history by inscribing their name on the trophy for the first time. They beat the Moroccans 2-1.

2006 — EGYPT

The tournament stayed in North Africa — moving from Tunisia to Egypt in 2008. The Egyptians went into the tournament with an awesome record — being the nation to have participated the most since its inception in 1957 and also being one of two countries (Ghana being the other) to have won it a record four times.
Like Ghana, the Egyptians were looking for their fifth triumph but with the Ghanaians bowing out early — they failed to go beyond the group stage — the Egyptians were fired up for glory.
And it not elude them at the end of the day — even though it came the hard way. After demolishing Congo Kinshasha and Senegal in the quarter-finals and semi-finals respectively, they took on Cote d’Ivoire in the final and found them a hard nut to crack.
Neither team was able to score a goal in regulation time and it took penalties to separate the two sides — with the Egyptians netting four while the Ivorians got only two.
And to top it all, the Egyptians proudly emerged as the only country to have won the tournament FIVE TIMES.