Africa Cup of Nations 2013: Lessons as Ghana slip up & Mali edge victory

Africa Cup of Nations 2013: What lessons did we learn as Claude LeRoy holds former team Ghana in Group B clash?

The Leopards have attacking talent to burn

Before the tournament Congo manger Claude LeRoy was telling everyone who cared to listen that his side possessed incredible attacking talent. And so it proved against Ghana – led by Anderlecht top-scorer Dieumerci Mbokani, old stager Lomana LuaLua and Tresor Mputu, the Leopards announced themselves a threat in Group B. Congo might have been expected to sit back and absorb pressure from the much-fancied Black Stars, but were able to match Asamoah Gyan and company for attacking verve. And despite falling two behind at one stage they never looked like losing – when Mputu and Mbokani eventually levelled the scoring, nobody could say it was an unjust result.

Ghana need to tighten up at the back

The concern raised by Black Stars coach Akwasi Appiah at the end of the match was that his side became tactically complacent in defence. The former assistant was spot on – with 40 minutes left Ghana were two up and should have closed out the match against lower-ranked opposition. However, they found themselves drawing a match they should’ve won and conceding a penalty through desperate defending. Yet with John Mensah sidelined, the task becomes even more difficult – Ghana are missing a defensive general which they sorely need. Freddie Kanoute’s Mali on the horizon are next up for the Black Stars, and they will certainly need to shore up their defence if they are to qualify from the group.

Fifa world rankings count for nothing

Mali are ranked 28th in the world – the third highest African nation – while Niger, their opponents today, were ranked 97th. For 86 minutes there was little to separate the sides, and the West African minnows could have easily held on to claim their first-ever tournament point.

Other sides should target Keita

The former Barcelona striker Seydou Keita carried his Eagles side through their opening game, not only scoring the goal but creating chances. The 33-year-old hit the crossbar minutes before finding the back of the net and his attacking ability ability will prove crucial if Mali are to better their third-placed finish from last year.

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