January 29, 2022

already several hiccups and controversies that eclipse the game

Between the arbitration controversies, the somewhat disappointing level of play or the consequences of the crisis linked to Covid-19, the Africa Cup of Nations has experienced many upheavals in just a few days, since the opening match last Sunday.

Criticized by several coaches in the five major European leagues – mainly because of its date – and even sometimes considered as an overload for the players, the 2022 African Cup of Nations began on January 9 in Cameroon. If African football hopes to take the opportunity to get rid of certain clichés, the competition has already experienced some hiccups and even a huge controversy during the clash of Group F between Tunisia and Mali.

“What happened during the match between Tunisia and Mali is totally ubiquitous. It is unacceptable, launched Jérôme Rothen in the program Rothen ignites on RMC this Wednesday. critics of the African Cup. The organization but what are they doing? Yet I was the first to protect this CAN which is not put on an equal footing with the Euro, a Copa America and so on. It is true that in the words of managers or coaches, I have often said in the locker room that they do not respect the African Cup enough. “

>> Tunisia-Mali (0-1)

The crazy end of Tunisia-Mali match

It is impossible not to address the incredible controversy of the match between Tunisia and Mali when listing the difficulties encountered since the start of the CAN. By whistling too early, twice, the end of the match, Zambian referee Janny Sikazwe drew the wrath of many supporters and African football was mocked by its detractors, especially on social networks.

The Tunisian selection may have filed a technical reservation, no official decision concerning the result of the match has been communicated by the authorities or the organizers. What give rise to new criticisms of the way in which the situation was managed.

The boss of the CAF referees tried to defuse the controversy by justifying the ball by a possible sunstroke but this incident looks like bad publicity for the continental tournament.

Stadiums that don’t fill up

Apart from the opening match between Cameroon and Burkina Faso (2-1), no meeting of this African Cup of Nations has been full. Not even the entry into the running of the Algerian title-holder or the long-awaited shock between Morocco and Ghana (1-0). The fault in particular with prohibitive prices, between 3,000 and 20,000 CFA Francs or between 4 and 31 euros. By way of comparison, a place for an out-of-competition match in Cameroon or an African Champions League match costs 1.5 euros in the popular platform.

“Then to protect this competition and make it attractive and watched on television… Already the stadiums are empty. It is not because of the gauges because there are not enough for 150 people, a Jerome Rothen pissed off again on RMC. What is certain is that people must be vaccinated but when you know before the competition that places are expensive and that only 7% of the population are vaccinated, it’s a bit of joke This goes in the direction, in fact that we do not respect enough this CAN. Even the organizers do not respect this African Cup enough. “

Covid-19 and its management are problematic

In addition to the price of seats, the health crisis clearly had an impact on attendance at stadiums during CAN 2022. In Cameroon, where only nearly 7% of adults are vaccinated, the organizers demanded proof of vaccination to attend the events. matches as well as a negative test of less than 48 hours. For the players involved too, the health issue has become a major stake in the tournament.

Mohamed Salah arrives at the stadium for a CAN match with Egypt on January 11, 2022
Mohamed Salah arrives at the stadium for a CAN match with Egypt on January 11, 2022 © Icon Sport

In addition to regular tests, and sometimes exhausting for internationals, there is also the risk of missing a decisive match. Opponent of Cape Verde this Thursday (8 p.m.) during the second day of hens, Burkina Faso will have to do without four members of the team, including captain Bertrand Traoré, after their positive test for Covid-19. Examinations which follow the first troubles before the duel against the host country. Last week, the Burkinabè group complained about the conditions in which its anti-Covid tests had been carried out, even going so far as to suspect embezzlement.

“A medical team showed up at our hotel for tests, said the deputy coach of Burkina Faso on the eve of challenging Cameroon. When we tried to understand who had sent them, CAF told us clearly that it was not them who sent them to the team, we refused to do the tests. “

Gabonese football already in crisis

Weakened by the absences of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Mario Lemina, Gabon nevertheless managed to win their first African Cup match against the Comoros (1-0). While the atmosphere should have been happy, the group of coach Patrice Neveu refused access to the locker room to the Minister of Sports of Gabon.

The cause? The players are demanding payment of their bonuses for the competition and have even briefly gone on strike during their preparation in Dubai. Bonuses which would have been largely stolen, according to the member of the government. Here again, the tournament had barely begun when a committed delegation found itself in the eye of the storm.

The show not (yet) at the rendezvous

The first day of CAN 2022 ended on Wednesday with the victory of Côte d’Ivoire against Equatorial Guinea (1-0). Cited among the favorites for the title, the group led by French Patrice Beaumelle battled to win despite a quick goal from Max-Alain Gradel. A performance of the Elephants in the image of services signed by several big names in African football for their entry into the running.

With only 12 goals in 12 games, the show was unfortunately not fantastic. Only the opening match between Cameroon and Burkina Faso saw more than one achievement. And again, Vincent Aboubakar offered victory to the Indomitable Lions … on two penalties. Nine matches ended with a score of 1-0 and there are already two draws without any goals.

Several great nations of the African continent disappointed for their first match. This is particularly the case of Egypt, with whom Mohamed Salah did not necessarily shine against Nigeria (0-1). Ditto for Senegal, which relied on a penalty from Sadio Mané after additional time to beat Zimbabwe (1-0). Sparkling in 2019, the Algerian selection struggled against Sierra Leone (0-0) and Riyad Mahrez’s partners got off to a bad start in the defense of their title.

“There is no one in the stadium, so already it does not make you want to watch the matches, regretted Jérôme Rothen. I also put myself in the shoes of the players. With the different climate of Europe, Djamel Belmadi therefore the coach of the title holder spoke about it, obviously it plays on the organizations, it plays on the rhythm of the matches where we see indeed a lot of technical errors and a lack of rhythm. All this summarized so that for the moment, c ‘is a parody of football. “

Obviously, the truncated preparation of the players, released only a few days by their clubs, harmed the quality of the show. Ditto for the weather conditions, hotter than in Europe or the Maghreb at this time of year. Jérôme Rothen also sees the state of the fields as a factor in the game proposed during this CAN.

“I’m not even talking about the quality of the matches, I’m just talking about the state of the field, said the member of the Dream Team RMC Sport. How we can see fields like those we saw on Tuesday for Algeria for example. Yes, they went 0-0 against Sierra Leone. But still, I’m sorry, playing a football match like that and one of the first matches of the African Cup on a field with a state like that. Imagine in four games. ” African football is currently missing the opportunity to show a beautiful face to the rest of the world. But the situation could still change in the coming weeks and in particular during the final phase of this CAN 2022.

Jean-Guy Lebreton Journalist RMC Sport