Monday, January 30, 2006

The perils of wasting a game

Congrats to the Guinean national team. At their final group stage match at the African Nations Cup, the Syli national (I wish the BBC would not the proper spelling) offered up a shock 3-0 rout of holders Tunisia. Both teams had already qualified for the next round and rested several players. However by winning the group, Guinea has a good shot at avoiding continental power Nigeria in the quarterfinal, while Tunisia is likely to play the Super Eagles.

The Carthage Eagles are not the only side punished for fielding a weakened side for their final group match. Côte d'Ivoire could've won their group with at least a draw against hosts Egypt. However, the Elephants were thumped 3-1, resting several stars. If they hadn't lost to Egypt, Côte d'Ivoire would've played a modest DR Congo outfit apparently in disarray. Instead, Côte d'Ivoire will face a Cameroon side that has not only been rampant at this tournament, but one which has a chip on its shoulder after having been eliminated by the Ivorians at the death in World Cup qualifying.

This Nations Cup shows the perils of punditry. A BBC preview predicted a 'relatively uncomplicated group' for Tunisia and that 'few would expect to see any more than three matches from the Syli Nationale [sic].' With a likely quarterfinal against Ghana or Senegal, a semifinal appearance for Guinea is not out of the question.

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