Featured Matches
Previous
Valencia
Malaga
8:00 PM GMT
Game Details
FC Augsburg
Borussia Dortmund
6:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Marseille
Nice
6:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Sporting Kansas City
Houston Dynamo
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Getafe
Almeria
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Getafe
Almeria
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Valencia
Malaga
8:00 PM GMT
Game Details
FC Augsburg
Borussia Dortmund
6:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Marseille
Nice
6:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Perugia
Bologna
6:30 PM GMT
Game Details
FC Union Berlin
Nurnberg
4:30 PM GMT
Game Details
FSV Frankfurt
RB Leipzig
4:30 PM GMT
Game Details
VfR Aalen
Kaiserslautern
4:30 PM GMT
Game Details
AJ Auxerre
Valenciennes
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Ajaccio GFCO
Troyes
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Chateauroux
Orléans
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Le Havre AC
Créteil
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Nimes
Arles
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Niort
Clermont Foot
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Sochaux
Dijon FCO
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Stade Laval
AC Ajaccio
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Go Ahead Eagles
Willem II Tilburg
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Achilles '29
Fortuna Sittard
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
FC Den Bosch
Jong Ajax
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Helmond Sport
NEC Nijmegen
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Jong PSV
FC Eindhoven
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
RKC Waalwijk
Jong FC Twente
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
SC Stormvogels Telstar
Almere City
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Sparta Rotterdam
FC Volendam
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
VVV Venlo
FC Emmen VV
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Academica de Coimbra
Vitoria Setubal
7:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Ural Sverdlovsk Oblast
Terek Grozny
2:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Balikesirspor
Akhisar Belediye
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Caykur Rizespor
Genclerbirligi
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
KAA Gent
KV Kortrijk
6:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Helsingborg
Halmstad
5:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Orebro SK
Brommapojkarna
5:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Athlone Town FC
Cork
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Bray
UCD
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Derry City
St Patricks
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Dundalk
Bohemians
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Limerick FC
Drogheda Utd
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Shamrock
Sligo
7:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Glenavon
Ballymena
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Coleraine
Portadown
7:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Sporting Kansas City
Houston Dynamo
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Queretaro
Monterrey
12:30 AM GMT
Game Details
Tijuana
U. de G.
2:30 AM GMT
Game Details
Aberystwyth
Bangor City
6:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Carmarthen
Port Talbot
6:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Newi Cefn Druids
Connah's Quay
6:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Airbus UK
Newtown
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
T.N.S.
Rhyl
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Independiente Rivadavia
Atlético Tucumán
6:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Unión de Santa Fe
Crucero del Norte
7:15 PM GMT
Game Details
Huracán
Patronato
11:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Instituto de Córdoba
Ferro Carril Oeste
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Temperley
Sp. Belgrano
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Gimnasia y Esgrima de Jujuy
San Martín de San Juan
12:30 AM GMT
Game Details
Atlante
At. San Luis
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Coras Tepic
Lobos BUAP
1:30 AM GMT
Game Details
Joinville
Oeste
11:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Sampaio Correa-MA
América Mineiro
11:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Santa Cruz FC
Goianiense
11:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Arica
Palestino
2:00 AM GMT
Game Details
12 de Octubre
Nacional
Postp
Game Details
Bidvest Wits
Moroka Swallows
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Chippa United
Ajax Cape Town
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Next

Marcotti: Platini's missed opportunity

FIFA 22 hours ago
Read
Jan 22, 2012

Twists in the tale's beginning

Out of a neon pink jacket a head tossed back a shower of braided dreadlocks. Drum beats rolled in from somewhere over his right shoulder, which jerked in response. A Michael Jackson-esque crotch grabbing followed and moves to rival the famous 'Moonwalk'.

The African Nations Cup had come to Equatorial Guinea; the continent's richest nation per capita with the lowest ranked football team in the tournament. As colours melted into rainbows and local tunes provided the soundtrack for tech-savvy projection show, pride in the tiny nation swelled.

The crowd, most of whom where clad in red to show support for their team, nicknamed the National Lightning, cheered, clapped and blew vuvuzelas (remember them from South Africa 2010?). The President, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, who has led the country since he seized power in a coup in 1979, had a smirk of complete satisfaction on his face.

The entertainers, including two leopard print dressed ladies with blue-streaked hair, another who looked distinctly like an ice-cream cake and a third in a black and white number decorated with an outline of the continent, belted out beats while the watching faces scrunched up in concentration.

Having seen many sporting events beat the odds to come to life in Africa, most recently the 2010 World Cup, it is easy to say that the continent is as good a host as any. African events have a wonderful mix of modernity and traditional cultures, they outdo themselves when it comes to representing people from all corners and the effort they put in stands as an assurance that they do not take their duties as organisers lightly.

The brightness of Bata made Africa proud again; hearing about the police dispersing an over-eager crowd by firing tear gas, saw reality hit home once more.

Equatorial Guinea have no experience of hosting major sporting events and this is the biggest one they have ever had to comprehend. Delays in ushering people in to the new, 37,500-seater stadium resulted in it not being full by the time the opening ceremony started. Every ticket needed to be inspected twice, once at the gate and once at the turnstiles, causing a surge of people and a need for a response from the security forces. Hopefully, they won't be needed again and the Israeli advisors being used by the tournament will remind them that aggressive action should be the last resort.

The national team seem to understand that and waited for the 87th minute to score the winner against Libya to record their first victory in the tournament's history. Just as big events are not the norm for the country, footballing success also isn't and sport is an afterthought in a place that preoccupies itself with oil production above almost anything else.

The women's team is responsible for their biggest achievement - victory in the 2008 African Women's Championship - but the men have never even competed in ANC before. Their country's wealth has often been able to secure them top-class coaches and steps to developing a competitive national team took place six years ago. In 2006, Brazilian coach Antonio Dumas naturalised five Brazilian players, including current goalkeeper Danilo.

As their first continental Cup loomed, a scramble to stock up on players ensued, with the net cast wide and deep to find players who could qualify for the national team. The squad for the tournament consists of six Spaniards, an Ivorian, a Cameroonian, two Brazilians and only a smattering of actual Equatoguineans. It was an issue that former coach Henri Michel reportedly resigned over.

Seventeen days before the biggest test of their sporting prowess, Equatorial Guinea had to appoint a new coach. Brazilian Gilson Paolo had little over two weeks to decide on a strategy, get to know his players and prepare them for a clash against a team who had battled a revolution to qualify for the tournament.

His biggest assistance came from the James and the Giant Peach-sized carrot that was dangled in front of the squad. A million dollars were promised to them for nothing more than victory over Libya. Never mind Senegal, Zambia, qualifying from the group or making it through to the knockouts, all the country's sports minister (who is also the President's son) focused on was the first match. The Equatoguineans have cashed in on a massive pay day not just in financial terms. They've earned victory and respect after beating Africa's sweethearts.

Libya appeared stunned by the consistent Equatoguinean onslaught and could have conceded in the 16th minute if the Samir Aboud's spill over the line was not found to have come from an offside strike from Ivan Bolado. Far from the man who kept Libya in the game against Zambia a few weeks ago, Aboud looked vulnerable apart from a save that came in the second-half off a free kick that curled through the wall.

More worryingly for Libya, they seldom looked like scoring. Ahmed Zuway was rarely fed balls and they lacked control in the midfield. Unlike their opposition, they did have higher hopes in the competition: Zambia and Senegal await. Zambia beat the tournament favourites in the other Group A clash and have already fired the warning shot on their determination pay homage to the victims of the 1993 plane crash with a trophy. ANC2012 began with two surprises, and one wonders how many more are to come.

Comments

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.