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A football supporter's guide to CAN 2017: Day 16
DRC's Ibenge kept his cool after losing to Ghana, El Hadary shone for the Pharoahs and Ghana's Grant was proud of his boys on day 16 of CAN 2017.
1- Florent Ibenge knows how to keep his cool
My admiration for Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) coach Florent Ibenge grows. I’ve mentioned before that he is a smooth operator and not one for clench-fisting histrionics. But following his side’s quarter-final defeat by Ghana in Oyem, the 55-year-old stepped up to another level. Reporters from DRC asked him for his thoughts on the performance of referee Bernard Camille. The partisans among them felt Camille had been wayward in some of his decisions. Ibenge would give the Sphinx a run for its money. “You ask the question because you think there’s a problem. But I’m not going to get into that. You know it’s not my custom to criticise referees and the officials …” Here I thought comes the ‘but’ … And sure enough it did. “But I’d like to congratulate Ghana on their victory. We’re going home to look into why we aren’t good enough.” Such humility. Such boundless munificence.
2- Florent Ibenge really knows how to keep his cool
Clearly irked by such magnanimity, another hack from the Congolese pack returned for blood. “But we saw you speaking to the referee for a while after the final whistle. Can you tell us what you were saying?” Ibenge – almost sighing into transcendence – offered, “The officials have a very difficult job. It’s not an easy thing to do. You know it’s my custom to always go up and acknowledge their work after the match whatever the result after the game. I went up and acknowledged them but I didn’t congratulate them.”
It’s 90 minutes, not a game of two halves.
Democratic Republic of Congo should have been out of sight following the first half of their game against Ghana. They wasted so many chances that at half time with the score at 0-0, you feared the worst for them. Sure enough, the errors started to filter through the ranks. The forwards had been inept and the midfield and defence followed suit. Both of Ghana’s goals came through sloppiness at the back and panic.
3- Egypt love a late show Part 1
Egypt scored in the 88th minute against Uganda to win 1-0 in the group stages. The Pharoahs scored in the 88th minute to win their quarter-final in Port-Gentil and advance to the semi-final for the first time since they won the Cup of Nations in 2010.
4- Egypt love a late show Part 2
Essam El Hadary goes on and on and on. He gained his 150th cap on day 16 and extended his own record. The goalkeeper has set the mark as the oldest player to feature in a game at the Cup of Nations at 44 years and 14 days. Egypt have not conceded since he came on the field midway through the first half in the game against Mali on 17 January. Don’t call him El Doddery.
5- Moving times
Ghana coach Avram Grant hailed his players and their spirit for reaching the semi-finals for the sixth consecutive Cup of Nations. That kind of consistency is impressive. Ghana did it without their skipper Asamoah Gyan who was crocked while running around on the sand dunes at the putative pitch at Port-Gentil. “The pitch at Oyem is like Wembley compared to the pitch at Port-Gentil,” Grant said after the game. “But the pitch here in Oyem is like the pitch at Port-Gentil compared to Wembley.” Got that lads?