Saturday, January 26, 2013
A TALE OF THREE GOALKEEPERS AT AFCON 2013
It was a tale of three goalkeepers taking center stage on a night of high drama in the African Cup of Nations on Friday.
One scored a penalty, one was sent off and one accused a referee of making "one of the worst decisions in the history of football" after Burkina Faso beat Ethiopia 4-0 and champions Zambia needed a late controversial penalty to draw 1-1 with Nigeria in Group C.
The penalty scorer was Zambia's keeper Kennedy Mweene, the keeper sent off was Burkina Faso's Abdoulaye Soulama and the goalie whose remarks could land him in trouble with the Confederation of African Football (CAF) is Nigeria captain of the night, Vincent Enyeama.
The 30-year-old, who has plenty of experience from a long career in club and international football and is now plying his trade in Israel, did not miss any word when he was asked what he thought about the decision by Egyptian referee Grisha Ghead to award Zambia a penalty in the 85th minute.
"It was the worst decision I have seen live. I don't know what is happening with the officiating," Enyeama fumed.
We had a terrible official in the first game too. But a decision like the one today does not belong in African football, and certainly not in a match of the magnitude of the champions against Nigeria," Enyeama fumed.
"I am really mad about it."
Television replays certainly suggested that if Nigerian defender Ogenyi Onazi touched Zambia's Emmanuel Mayaka as he fell, it was unintentional and could well have been outside the penalty area.
Enyeama's miserable night was completed when Mweene, his opposite number, strolled up from the other end of the field to beat him from the penalty spot and give Zambia a 1-1 draw which keeps them very much involved in the fight for a last eight place.
Mweene himself had faced a penalty earlier in the match, but managed to keep his goal intact without needing to make a save of his own after Nigerian playmaker John Obi Mikel fired his poorly struck penalty against the right hand post.
The keeper was beaten by a good strike from Emmanuel Emenike which gave Nigeria the lead, but otherwise had a good game.
Mweene said: "It is hard enough for a goalkeeper to save a penalty, never mind score one, but I do practice them in training.
"It was a long walk from one end of the pitch to the other, but I just concentrated on scoring and that's what I did."
Mweene has now faced four penalties in the last four matches Zambia have played in the finals - the semifinal and final last year and the opening two games here, and none have been converted.
No goals were scored against Burkina Faso on Friday either as the west African outsiders took advantage of first-half injuries to Ethiopia's Adane Girma and Asrat Megersa which fatally disrupted their rhythm after a bright start.
Two goalkeepers helped the Burkinabe keep a clean sheet - Soulama, who was sent off for a careless handball just outside his penalty area after 60 minutes, and substitute Daouda Diakite, who is likely to keep his place for the decider against Zambia as Soulama is suspended.
Burkina Faso now sit on top of the group with four points from their two matches, followed by Zambia and Nigeria with two and Ethiopia with one.
The climax will come next Tuesday when Zambia face Burkina Faso in Nelspruit and Nigeria play Ethiopia in Rustenburg.
Burkina Faso, who had not won in the finals for 17 successive matches dating back to 1998 when they hosted the event, were lucky early on when Ethiopia's Shimelese Bekele hit the post with Soulama stranded after just four minutes.