Thursday, August 14, 2008

Africa in the Olympic Quarterfinals


While we lament the loss of the Nigerian Super Falcons in the Women's Olympic football tournament, praise must be heaped on the African men, who all swept into the quarterfinals of the men's Olympic tournament.

One thing we know for sure is that Africa will be represented in the semi-finals, as Nigeria take on Ivory Coast in the last eight. Cameroon advanced to play Brazil.

1996 gold medalists Nigeria advanced as winners of their group and were unbeaten after an opening draw with one of the pre-tournament favorites Holland, coupled with wins over Japan and the USA.

The Super Eagles are without several key players following the balmy club-vs. country rows that affected superstars such as Lionel Messi of Argentina/Barcelona.

Russia-based Peter Odemwingie is the only over-aged player in the squad after goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama and striker Ikechukwu Uche were not released by their respective clubs.

The lack of an experienced goalkeeper has already cost Nigeria as Ambruse Vanzekin's poor clearance led to a goal for Japan.

The Ivory Coast are making their first appearance in the Olympic football tournament and began their campaign with a 2-1 loss to defending champions Argentina.

The Ivorians bounced back from that defeat with an easy 4-2 win over Serbia and assured qualification with a 1-0 win over Australia.

Strikers Salomon Kalou and Sekou Cisse have lead the way for the Ivorian Elephants with two goals each , while midfielder Gervinho has scored one goal as well as assisting two.

The 2000 gold medalists Cameroon face a tough task in the last eight as they play Brazil.

The Brazilians have won all three of their games so far scoring nine goals and are yet to concede.

Cameroon have struggled to find the net in China with only two goals at the Games.

Georges Mandjeck has been both hero and villain for Cameroon, scoring a late equalizer in the opening game against South Korea that ended 1-1. But he was then sent off in a goalless draw with Italy.

The only other goal was scored by Stephane Mbia as Cameroon narrowly beat Honduras 1-0.

All the quarter-finals are on August 16th.

Good luck, Africa!


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