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Africa Cup of Nations - blog

Angola, Cote d'Ivoire: the pick of the quarters

by Paul Myers

Article published on the 2010-01-24 Latest update 2010-01-24 13:47 TU

Angolan soccer fans react during their African Nations Cup soccer match against Algeria in Luanda(Photo: Reuters)

Angolan soccer fans react during their African Nations Cup soccer match against Algeria in Luanda
(Photo: Reuters)

And so to the business end of the tournament. Two of the quarter finals take place on Sunday. The first at 5pm local time is between hosts Angola and Ghana. It is at the national stadium in Luanda.

Since it took around four hours to travel the 18 kilometres from the RFI team hotel to the stadium for Angola’s final group match against Algeria, my colleagues in Luanda will probably be setting off just after breakfast to get to the arena on time for the kick off.

But away from inconveniences like access. Who will win ? Angola should have too much experience for a Ghana side lacking some of its most influential technicians.

Then at 8.30pm on Sunday evening, Cote d’Ivoire play Algeria – the battle of the world cup qualifiers. The Ivorians should be too strong. So there - Angola and Cote d’Ivoire to go through to the semi finals. I have spoken.

In the recently published book Soccernomics sports journalist Simon Kuper and economist Stefan Szymanski look at all kinds of football related data.

Amid all the facts they outline that home advantage is worth two-thirds of a goal in a football match.

That’s why host nations usually do well in tournaments. They also show that staging a competition isn’t the money spinning extravaganza we’re led to believe.

Quite the contrary, its all about giving the punters a bit of pleasure.

What kind of joy people find in a gridlock is beyond me. But you can’t dispute the social cohesion.

And then there’s the communal euphoria of the victory. Lyrical fans take to their 4x4s and roar around town, waving flags, and trumpeting the success.

 It’s acceptable high spirits. Only a curmudgeon would begrudge such displays of happiness. Besides it’s the very same ‘local colour’ we travel thousands of miles to profile.

I’ve been in Angola nearly three weeks and have been to all four venues for this tournament.

The football has ranged from mediocre and meandering to tense and thrilling. However the capital Luanda as well as the cities of Benguela, Lubango and Cabinda don’t seem quite ready yet for the influx of pleasure seekers nor how to usher them a dozen or so kilometres out of town to the multi million dollar venues.

How will the fans get to these gleaming new stadiums must have - at some stage - been the question. Presumably someone replied a light railway system. No. Cycle paths? No.

For this most social of events, the most environmentally unfriendly means of transport is the  mass option. The oil barons are having a ball.

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