Talking Drums

The West African News Magazine


African cup of nations opens in Egypt

Algeria and Morocco, Africa's representatives in next June's World Cup in Mexico will be under the microscopic eyes of the game's analysts when the 15th African Cup of Nations tournament opens in the Egyptian capital on Friday, March 7-March 21.

Founded by General Mustapha of Egypt who bore the name of the original trophy, the African Cup of Nations is a two-yearly affair organised by the African Football Confedera- tion. The inaugural championship was held in Cairo in 1957.

Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, and South Africa, formed the nucleus of the confederation. South Africa was expelled in 1961 in protest at her obnoxious apartheid policy.

Since its inception, the Cup of Nations tournament has become football's most festive event on the continent. Unfortunately, it had very little impact outside Africa until the 1982 World Cup when Algeria and Cameroon met the best in the world and demonstrated that there was time ahead of African football.

England manager Bobby Robson is scheduled to fly to the sea-side resort of Alexandria to study the tactics of the Moroccan national team who will confront the originators of the game in Monterey.

In terms of competitiveness, the Cup of Nations has been a straight fight between the Arabs of North Africa and West Africa. It is the rivalry between these blocks of African football powers that have made the competition memorable.

West Africa holds the balance of power.

Fortunately for the Arabs, both Ghana and Nigeria will be missing at the parade of African soccer elites this year. Four times champions, Ghana's absence together with the failure of Nigeria, 1980 winners leaves a big gap in the West African front which Ivory Coast and Senegal, together with defending champions Cameroon, will find difficult to fill. Egypt lead Group 'A' which includes Senegal, Ivory Coast and new entrants Mozambique.

Barring any major upset the Egyptians should make it to the semi-finals - alongside either Ivory Coast or Senegal.

The real crunch will be in Alexandria where Group 'B' participants of Cameroons, Algeria, Morocco and Zambia have equal chances of reaching the last four.

Depleted by the unavailability through injuries of star players like Roger Miller and N'kono, who took the centre of the world stage in 1982, Cameroon will find it difficult keeping to the pace to be set by Algeria and Morocco which leaves a clear impression that this year's tournament will be decided among the North African entries of Egypt, Algeria and Morocco. Of course, in the game of association football, the unthinkable cannot be ruled out.

Sanda's bout in doubt

The Commonwealth Championship aspirations of African middleweight boxing champion Abdul Umaru Sanda appear to have been dashed.

An authoritative source in Accra told Graphic Sports that following the beating Sanda received at the hands of Nigerian champion Hunter Clay, the Nigerian authorities wrote series letters plus press cuttings urging the Commonwealth Championships Committee to withdraw its sanction of a match between Sanda and Britain's Tony Sibson for the latter's crown.

Prior to that, the CCC had made it mandatory for Sibson to defend his crown against Sanda, but against the background of the latest developments the committee has Nigeria's Commonwealth asked Sibson to fight any of the rated boxers squad opts for local dishes including Sanda.

The promoters, who had earlier been swayed by the Azumah euphoria to pick up the Sanda- Sibson fight, have also lost interest in the fight following Sanda's defeat by Clay.

Award to ensure discipline in Ghana soccer

The Ghana Olympic Committee has instituted two awards for the most disciplined football club and the most outstanding amateur sportsman. At stake will be the Unity Cup and the Sportsmanship Trophy which have been specially flown in from Britain.

According to Dr Nkansa-Gyane, President of the NOC the Unity Cup is for the football club which during the year comports itself and promotes unity among the entire sporting public. He explained that the award is restricted to football clubs, because apart from soccer enjoying the biggest following it is the sport that breeds indiscipline, conflict and personal animosity if not properly handled. It is the desire of the NOC to see soccer as unifying force which will bring amity and friendship.

The 'Sportsmanship Cup' is for the most outstanding amateur sportsman or sports- woman whose exemplary life serves as a shining example for others to follow both on and off the field of competition.

The award winners will be selected by the board which will pick candidates for the Ghana Olympic Hall of Fame.

Referees on strike

Referees in the Upper East Region of Ghana have decided not to handle football matches in the region with immediate effect because their lives have been constantly threatened by spectators in the region, especially at the Bolgatanga stadium. There are at present 12 qualified referees in the region.

This was announced at a press conference by Mr Oscar K. Darko, chairman of the Upper East and West Referees Association in the presence of Mr S.I. Salifu and Mr Dominic Salaam, Vice Chairman and Secretary respectively of the Association at Bolgatanga.

Mr Darko explained that on February 2 this year, Class One referee, Sgt. D.Y. Agbelevor, his two linesmen, Mr Alhassan and Lt. Botway, and himself were attacked by angry spectators after a second division league match between Great Uppers and Bawku United at the Bolgatanga Stadium.

He said the referee disallowed two goals scored by Great Uppers, one in each half of the match, because in the referee's opinion the two goals were scored from the off-side position. As a result, the spectators who cannot be the best judges in a match started booting down the match officials and hurling stones at them.

Nigeria's athletes and officials to summer's Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh, Scotland, may not walk into the Games Village restaurants and be confronted with mashed potatoes, lamb chops, fish and chips and other exotic delicacies.

Plain, old, good and tasteful Nigerian dishes mala and ewedu... tuwo and shinkaf ... eba and bitter-leaf... stand a chance of being made available in the restaurant counters for the athletes who are expected to go for as many gold medals as possible.

The special concession available to all nations entering teams for the Games is at the instance of the Games Organising Committee in Edinburgh which has since advised compet- ing nations to indicate desire for ethnic/indigenous diets.

Nigeria Organising Committee chairman, Mr P.A. Alli-Idowu said that his committee has already forwarded recipes for different Nigerian menus to the Games committee. He also said that an advance team comprising Nigerian officials will leave Lagos in April to inspect, amongst others, accommodation and training facilities for the Nigerian team.

Odizor qualifies

Nduka Odizor, the man they all want to beat, survived a veritable scare from Juan Rodriguez of Spain to hit the quarter finals of the Lagos Lord Rumens Classic with a 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 victory.

In a tension-soaked match in which every- body appeared to be praying for Odizor, Rodriguez, ranked 214, broke Odizor in the ninth game to take a 5-4 lead in the first set. So smooth and skilful, Rodriguez took his serve to end the first set, almost outclassing Odizor in the understanding of the game of tennis.

But behind the homeboy who played what could be considered his greatest game ever. were the god of tennis, the prayers of club members and spectators, his guts and a sprinkling of bad calls.

Exchanges were even in the second set until the eight game when Odizor broke Rodriguez to take the lead at 5-3 and then served out the set at 6-3.

talking drums 1986-03-10 Information blackout spreading aids-2 in Ghana - Babangida - Coup plotters executed in Nigeria