Rounding Up A Busy Day of International Football

February 7, 2013 — by Suman


As we posted to our tumblr yesterday morning, there were at least 10 international matches of interest yesterday, ranging from the Africa Cup of Nations semifinals in the morning, to a bunch of international friendlies in mid-afternoon, and capped off by the 1st three Hex matches.

Here’s a roundup of various match notes and observations from the CultFootball crew:

The two Africa Cup of Nations semifinals: I put on the first semifinal, Mali vs Nigeria, midway thru the 1st half, and quickly saw Nigeria go up 3-0 within the span of 20 minutes. Goals from (1) Elderson, assisted by Chelsea’s Victor Moses (no, Elderson is not a naturalized Nigerian originally from Brazil–his full name is Uwa Elderson Echiéjilé, born in Benin City, playing the last few years in Portugal for Sporting Braga (no, he’s not a naturalized Nigerian originally from Benin–Benin City is in Nigeria); (2) Ideye Aide Brown, a 24yo striker who plays for Dynamo Kyiv, assisted by Emmanuel Emenike; and (3) Emenike, another 24yo striker who also plays in far Eastern Europe, for Spartak Moscow.  Nigeria made it 4-0 via a goal from yet another young striker playing in Russia, Ahmed Musa (20yo, CSKA Moscow). Mali pulled one back in the second half, but their inspirational run ended emphatically.

The second semifinal was a huge upset. The conventional wisdom is that the final would be a clash between two West African powers, Nigeria and Ghana. But instead West African minnow Burkina Faso pulled off the shocker, beating the star-studded Black Stars of Ghana. Ghana scored an early 13′ goal off a PK, but couldn’t add to their lead.  Burkina Faso’s striker Aristide Bancé equalized in the 2nd half (born apparently in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, but moved with his family to Burkina Faso as a child; now playing for Bundesliga minnows FC Augsburg). Burkina Faso then held off Ghana’s attack through extra time, and won the match in penalties.  This match report cites a couple missed chanced by Asamoah Gyan in particular, although Jonathan Wilson’s match report highlights another unfortunate aspect of the match: “Refereeing errors threaten to overshadow Burkina Faso’s dramatic win over Ghana

The Burkina Faso-Nigerian final will take place on Sunday in Johannesburg, at 8pm local time (1pmET), and will be available for viewing via

Among the many International Friendlies, some among us watched Spain-Uruguay, England-Brazil, and France-Germany.

Here are Coach Larry’s observations on Spain’s 3-1 victory over Uruguay:

The match took place in Doha, Qatar at (Wiz?) Khalifa international stadium. pretty sure hex match will have same commentators as BeIN uses the remote setup. Color guy is German but I don’t know who. Then the play by play called him Bodo, and he praised a Victor Valdes distribution, so it’s Bodo Illgner.

No Xavi, no Xabi Alonso. Cesc as false nine, so no Fernando Torres nor David Villa nor Fernando Llorente. Chelsea’s Cesar Azpilicueta wide right with plenty of room as Uruguay started out shading to other side against Jordi Alba, Juan Mata, Santi Cazorla, and Pedro.

Uruguay was all counter attack at the beginning.  Cesc scored in the 16′ on a long range shot right through Uruguayan goalkeeper Fernando Muslera‘s hands. A little swerve to it, but Muslera [now with Galatasaray, previously with Lazio] should have held it.

A wrong offside decision in the 29’ denied Spain a 2-0 lead, and denied Carlos Puyol a goal to cap off his 100th Spain cap. Spain played a short corner, which was then played back to 8-10 yards off the near corner. Ball was swung in across three face of goal, maybe a flick but volleyed by a wide open Puyol, who was called offsides.

Spain then lost some concentration, Uruguay appealed for a penalty which was denied, but Spain’s organization broke down and Uruguay found a through ball to the top of the box, spin over turn and slid home by Cristian Rodríguez. [Rodriguez came up with Peñarol, played at PSG and Porto before moving last summer to Atletico Madrid].

They honored Puyol for his hundredth cap with a montage and halftime ceremony. Looking forward to his future as a Bond villain.  Plus Sergio Ramos and Torres look very twin-ish with the haircuts.

The second half started wide open. Both teams were stretched and attacked more quickly. Spain attacked down their left, Uruguay snuffed it out but lost it right away in the transition to Pique (who had come on for Puyol). Pique slid in a ball for Pedro, who converted with a slide rule to the far post (51′).

Jordi Alba is bit of a punk. could have had three yellows in one sequence.

Cavani could have converted one but decent save from Valdes.

Multiple subs for Spain through the 2nd half: Malaga’s young star Isco on for Iniesta; David Villa on for Juan Mata; Cazorla exited for debutante Mario Suarez [another Atlético midfielder–in fact, born in a Madrid suburb and a product of their youth system]; Arsenal’s new arrival Nacho Monreal on for Jordi Alba.

Field mics pick up Spain passing:

Thump-Thump thump thump- Thump- Thump

Elder statesman Diego Forlan on for Cavani with 20′ to play.

[Larry’s notes ended there. Spain added an insurance goal in 74′, with Pedro getting his 2nd. Via’s mbm:

SPAIN LEAD 3-1!!! PEDRO WITH HIS SECOND OF THE EVENING!! La Roja launch a blistering counter attack through the Barca trio of Cesc, Villa and Pedro, with the latter of the three prodding the ball home from close range after neat build-up play from the other two.]

Video of that Spain 3 – 1 Uruguay match:

Three interesting intra-European matches took place concurrently, at the traditional (western) European  kickoff time of 2:45pm: England-Brazil at Wembley, France-Germany at the Stade de France, and Netherlands-Italy at the Amsterdam Arena.
Check back here for notes on those, as well as the Hex matches: the USMNT’s demoralizing loss in Honduras, Costa Rica battling back to salvage a draw in Panama City, and Mexico listless performance/Jamaica’s suprising performace at the Estadio Azteca.



Part 3 of What To Watch Over the Interlull (Sunday March 27)

March 27, 2011 — by Suman

We’re past the halfway point of the Interlull.  We saw some interesting matches Friday and Saturday.  There’s less to watch today–then no games tomorrow, but a whole slate of interesting ones on Tuesday.  Here are the two we choose for today,

Sunday, March 27:

The one getting all the attention is Scotland hosting A Seleçã London (?):

Scotland-Brazil at Emirates in London (ESPN2, 9amET): See our Sao Paulo-based correspondent’s rundown of the newish Seleção here.  We don’t much about the Scottish side.  If you really want a preview of them, listen to the segment on this week’s Guardian Football Weekly Extra pod, wherein they get Scotsman Ewan Murray on the phone in order to discuss the match.

But we’re equally intrigued by this match in Brazzaville–we’re just not sure if we’ll get to watch it:

It's not often you get to see this national team play--and you probably won't today


Congo-Ghana in Brazzaville (no US TV): An interesting Cup of African Nation qualifier. Ghana may be looking past the Congo to Tuesday’s match against England at Wembley.

Note that this match is being hosted by the Republic of Congo in the capital city of Brazzaville.  As Wikipedia points out the Republic of Congo is “Not to be confused with the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo.”  Which is exactly what we did at first, thinking we’d refer you this post we did on TP Mazembe back in December, when they surprised the footballing world by advancing to the finals of the Club World Cup.  But TP Mazembe is of course in the DR Congo.  So all we can do on Congo is excerpt’s match preview:

Congo are a team under construction hence a lot of young players with few experience faces. Captain Christopher Samba of Blackburn Rovers would have a lot on his shoulders as they meet the ever popular Black Stars. They are just a point adrift the west Africans and a little effort from his troops coupled with the home support could do the trick for them.

Coach Camille Ngakosso would also rely heavily on striker Ibara Franchel, the 2007 CAF Young Player of the Year award winner and Switzerland-based Matt Moussilou to frustrate the current Africa best team at the Alphonse Massamba Debat Stadium.

For info on Ghana see our copious coverge of the Black Stars: here (for the Ghana starting XI vs Uruguay in the World Cup last July); here (for video of the Asamoah Gyan Dance); and here (for background about young up-&-coming striker Andre Ayew–son of the greatest Ghanaian player of all time, Abedi (Ayew) Pele).  We may see Gyan and Ayew partner up front in an exciting Ghanaian strikeforce (if not in Brazzaville, then maybe in London on Tuesday).

Ghana is clearly the highest profile side on the continent, after their inspiring showing in South Africa last summer.  They boast a squad filled with players playing club ball at the highest levels: Michael Essien, Asamoah Gyan, Sulley Muntari John Painstil, John Mensah, Richard Kingson (all Premier League); youngsters Kevin-Prince Boateng, Kwadwo Asamoah and Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu (all Serie A, the latter two at Udinese); ; Isaac Vorsah and Anthony Annan in the Bundesliga (Hoffenheim and Schalke 04, respectively); and Derek Boateng in La Liga (Getafe). See here for a list of the full squad.

Since there doesn’t appear to be any US television coverage (not sure about Europe?), one way to follow the match is via @GaryAlSmith’s Twitter stream–he is all about African football, and it appears he’s actually in Ghana.  Here is his Twitter bio:

garyalsmith: AFRICA = African Football Remains In Corrupt Administration….but…All Football Remains In Correspondence Always.



UEFA Champions League: Marseille Visits Manchester

March 15, 2011 — by Suman

Olympique Marseille visits Old Trafford today, attempting to advance to the final eight of the Champions League for the first time since 1993--when they went all the way and won the title--the one and only time a French club has won the Champions League. Marseille held Manchester United to a scoreless draw at home in the Stade Velodrome in the first leg--and hence Man U needs an outright victory in today's match to advance. Look for Marseille to sit back and play a disciplined defensive game--and attempt to score at least one goal via a counterattack.


FIFA Club World Cup Finalist: TP Mazembe Out of Lubumbashi (DR Congo)

December 16, 2010 — by Suman2

Tout Puissant Mazembe - Founded in 1939

How did Tout Puissant Mazembe–based in Lubumbashi, the 2nd largest city in the Democratic Republic of Congo–become the first club from outside of Europe and South America to reach the finals of a Club World Cup?

Most immediately, by upsetting the Brazilian side Internacionale 2-0 earlier this week in the semis.  (And thus preventing an Inter v Inter final. Inter Milan defeated South Korean club Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma 3-0 in the other semifinal; Internazionale will play Mazembe in the finals this Saturday).

The highlights show a couple nice finishes by the Congolese (and some relatively lax defending by the Brazilians):

For a more detailed account of how TP Mazembe reached the final, see this Guardian blog entry: “TP Mazembe continue journey from karate kids to the top of the world“; the “karate kids” reference alludes to a shameful showing in a club tournament in Kigali in May, against Rwandan army club APR FC:

Opponents of APR complain that the army club benefits from generous refereeing when playing at home and Mazembe felt they were being kicked with impunity. When the referee denied the visitors a penalty, the perceived injustice got a bit too much for some Mazembe players. Their captain and prolific striker, Trésor Mputu, protested so furiously that he was sent off and he did not, alas, go quietly.

Instead he and several team-mates chased the referee around the pitch; the midfielder Guy Lusadisu was the first to catch up with the official … and laid him out with a flying karate kick. Oh dear. The match and then the whole tournament were abandoned and Fifa banned Mputu and Lusadisu for a year. Mazembe’s hopes of retaining the African Champions League seemed doomed. The loss of Mputu, who last year was voted the best player playing his club football in Africa, was considered especially debilitating.

Here is the video of the flying karate kick in Kigali:


Players of African Origin: Chelsea v Arsenal

October 3, 2010 — by Suman2

African power: Drogba spreads his wings

We here at CultFootball have been kicking around the idea of doing a series of post focusing on African football: its players, its nations, its history, its future.

For a quick start, note that today’s highly anticipated Premier League clash between Arsenal and Chelsea will prominently feature a number of African players:


Didier Drogba (Ivory Coast) and Michael Essien (Ghana) are among Chelsea’s stars, and keys to their success; John Miel Obi (Nigeria) is also starting today, while Salomon Kalou (also Ivory Coast) may come off the bench.


Arsenal’s Bacary Song and Abou Diaby are both of French nationality, but are of Senegalese and Ivorian descent, respectively. Emmanuel Eboué is also Ivorian, while Alex Song is Cameroonian. Both Samir Nasri and Marouane Chamakh were born in France but of North African descent (Algerian and Moroccan, respectively)–Nasri has chosen to play the French national team, while Chamakh opted for Morocco.