An amazing 46 fouls were committed in the game between Ghana and Mali in Group B. That’s just about one every two minutes. The seven yellow cards from the game are hardly a surprise, but it shows what a battle some of the group matches have been so far. With five victories out of 11 games, and many of the others ending in 0-0 draws, the competition has not yet brought on-the-edge viewing for football fans. Mali mustered just one shot on target against Ghana as they failed to find the back of the net, having scored just once against DR Congo in their previous outing. Ghana could only reply with four shots on target of their own – including Mubarak Wakaso’s winning penalty – in a game that was filled with half-chances and long-range efforts.
Zambia and Ethiopia managed six yellow cards and a red card in their opening game – a feat almost equalled by Ghana and Mali in their clash on Thursday as the Black Stars received four cautions and the Eagles picked up three. Arguably, one of Ghana’s yellows should have been a red as goalkeeper Fatau Dauda stayed on the pitch despite a deliberate handball outside the area. As Mali looked to overturn a one-goal deficit, tensions were high and the scrappy battle became a playground for the referee. Having seven players walking a fine line for most of the second-half makes nervy watching for managers and fans, and Ghana will be hoping to avoid picking up any more cards – and suspensions – after their victory saw them progress to the last eight.
DR Congo lined up against Niger in an attack-minded formation, featuring former Newcastle United forward Lomana LuaLua and Anderlecht’s recently crowned Belgian player of the year Dieumerci Mbokani, but created very little. The Leopards recovered from 2-0 down in the first game against Ghana, but lacked the cutting edge against Niger that saw them score twice against the Black Stars. Claude Le Roy dubbed Tresor Mputu the next Samual Eto’o of African football earlier in his career, but the forward, like his counterparts, looked increasingly frustrated as the game went on. Le Roy will still feel his side can progress as long as his forwards can produce performances, but they will have to be far more clinical against Mali if that is to happen.
MORE: Man United latest news
MORE: Arsenal latest news
MORE: Chelsea latest news
MORE: Liverpool latest news