Not long to go before the final of the African Cup of Nations between Cameroon and Egypt, a game in which many thought at least one of our players would have featured in.
Pompey probably more than any other club have suffered due to the competition taking place in January so I thought I’d take a bit of time out to write a review of how our players have performed.
Muntari – His campaign started off in heroic fashion with a late screamer in Ghana’s 2-1 win over Guinea. I had high hopes for Ghana throughout this tournament but it quickly became apparent that without a top class striker, like the Cote d’Ivoire have in Drogba, they would struggle. Ghana looked heavily reliant on Muntari and in particular Essien, who found himself filling in for other players due to injury and indiscipline. Muntari went on to score again in their final group fixture against Morocco but it was the scare against Nigeria in the Quarter Finals that finally highlighted Ghana’s weaknesses. Despite John Mensah being sent off due to a last player challenge, Ghana scraped on to beat a poor Nigeria side. Their weaknesses were exposed once again against Cameroon, a side they had under the cosh for the majority of the game. Like Bolton yesterday they fell to defeat simply because they couldn’t put the ball in the back of the net. This set up what many thought would be this years final, Ghana vs Cote d’Ivoire, in a third place playoff. A match with little significance and one that no team ever wants to take part in. But it started off well for Ghana with another Muntari screamer – a free kick from 25 yards. Ghana went on to win 4-2 in a game Cote d’Ivoire had little pleasure in being in.
Verdict – Overshadowed by Michael Essien’s presence at times, Muntari finished the tournament joint top scorer for Ghana with 3 goals. He is arguably Ghana’s second best player and had Ghana a top striker they would be putting their name on the trophy this evening.
Kanu – The enigma of Portsmouth FC, was injured in the opening game against the Cote d’Ivoire and never featured again as Nigeria went out against Ghana in the quarter finals.
Verdict – Like many, I questioned why Kanu would be picked ahead of goalscorers such as Martins and Yakubu. However it was irrelevant as with those players they still couldn’t win games in the manner they should. A team living in the past, Kanu has never scored in the Africa Cup of Nations and this will surely continue as it looks to be his last tournament for Nigeria. Unless, as the rumours suggest, he becomes the coach of Nigeria.
Utaka – Who? Honestly. Is this boy having the most anonymous season ever? We’ve seen some real potential from him but his form of late has been pretty abysmal. Many thought the ACN break would do him good but he blatantly didn’t wake up because Berti Vogts dropped him in their final game of the tournament, the important 2-1 defeat to Ghana in the Quarter Finals.
Verdict – Time for the real Utaka to stand up and deliver.
Diop – Papa featured in all of Senegal’s games, twice starting and once as substitute, as Senegal failed once again to recapture the form they achieved in the 2002 World Cup.
Verdict – Unfortunately for Papa it looks as though his influence and Senegal’s influence through Africa has waned. They’ll do well to come anywhere near the World Cup in 2010.
Tournament Verdict – Despite many of the best players in the Premier League being African, I’ve been very disappointed by the tournament. The reason? The huge gap in quality between players in teams. Ghana had a team with Michael Essien who cost £24.4m in midfield yet up front they relied on the goals of Junior Agogo who plays for Nottingham Forest in League One.
Technically there have been some fantastic players and moves but for the majority of games the standard has been poor and it questions why teams such as Portsmouth have had to suffer for this second rate tournament? Egypt, the most European-like team to win tonight.
Written by stillthewhizz.
The views within this article are the views of the individual who wrote and submitted this piece, sometimes solely theirs. They are not necessarily shared by the Vital Pompey Site Journalists.