Friday, January 23, 2004

The 2004 African Nations Cup (CAN) starts tomorrow in Tunis. The opening match is between hosts Tunisia and shock first-timers Rwanda.

As seems the case every two years, the tournament has been hit by controversy by European clubs complaining that they are losing many top players. They want the CAN to be held in the summer so it doesn't mess up the European club season. This call has been rightly dismissed by Confederation of African Football [CAF] president Issa Hayatou. The recently re-elected boss of African soccer noted that the continent's weather makes such a call unfeasible. "We once organised the tournament in March and then the big European clubs asked us to move it to January during the winter break," said Hayatou. "But with the number of tournaments, they are no longer capable of observing a winter break. Now they want us to move to a new date, but it's not possible to play in July because of the climate."

In other news, Cameroon introduced a new one-piece uniform, similiar to what sprinters wear. However, the head of soccer's world governing body says the suits contravene the laws of the game, which stipulate that players are supposed to wear both shorts and a shirt. This is the second straight African championship where Cameroon's uniforms ran into trouble. Before CAN 2002, the team introduced sleeveless uniforms... which they were not allowed to wear in that year's World Cup. You'd think they'd learn to check these things before spending the time developing new uniforms.

Now, on to the battle to prevent the Cameroonians from winning their 3rd straight African crown.

My predictions for the knockout stage...

Senegal over Tunisia
Mali over Guinea
Morocco over Egypt
Cameroon over Nigeria

Senegal over Morocco
Mali over Cameroon

Mali over Senegal

Unexpected, I know. But I correctly predicted Senegal as finalists in 2002 so we'll see if my luck holds.

You can follow the action via CAF's website


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