As the battle for crowning Africa’s Home Champions edges to the last hurdle, the third edition of the African Nations Championship has now reached the nail biting stages. After some nerve wrecking and scintillating action from 16 of the continents finest football countries, the last four contenders for African glory have now been decided. Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Libya, and Ghana are the last four teams with the opportunity of competing in the ultimate showdown in the quest for lifting the coveted CHAN trophy.
Cape Town, Mangaung and Polokwane has been the battle ground for what will emerge as Africa’s greatest icon where goal scoring brilliance has been centre stage and superseding any of the previous continental cup competitions. Standing at a record total of 72 goals being scored after 28 matches, the Orange CHAN 2014 is currently averaging at 2.6 goals per match, an impressive record compared to the recently held AFCON 2013 with its 2.16 goals scored for the whole tournament. The quality and commitment from the players eager to lift their nations’ flags high up into the African skies is testimony to outstanding display of pure African football talent.
CHAN has affirmed CAF’s vision of celebrating Africa’s Home Champions where locally based players are given the opportunity to showcase to their world their talent. Equally the outstanding leadership of the three coaches, who are nationals of the teams proceeding to the semi-final (save for the Libyan coach), viz. Stephen Keshi for Nigeria, Ian Gorowa of Zimbabwe and Maxwell Konadu from Ghana is true testimony that when national duty calls and nations pride is at stake, they have lived up to the occasion.
Football lovers have also witnessed some exciting talent emerging during this period with the likes of Nigerian sensation, Christantus Uzoenyi who has been a livewire for the West Africans, scoring 3 vital goals. Young Zimbabwean shot-stopper, George Chigova has been outstanding with him only conceding a solitary goal for the Warriors. Abdelsalam Omar has also been in fine form for Libya, hitting the back of the net 3 times while Richard Mpong’s consistent performance has been instrumental in the Ghanaian team.
An elated LOC CEO, Mr Mvuzo Mbebe expressed his full satisfaction with the high quality football that has been on show from the onset of the tournament.
“We said it at the beginning that when CHAN leaves these shores, it will be viewed as a totally different tournament. We confidently dubbed it Africa’s Home Champions, with the aim of elevating it to a level that is befitting to the rich football talent that Africa possesses. Not only have we witnessed great football but once again, Africa has stood up and united at various stadia to show their love and support for the beautiful game. We are at the final stages of the tournament and we now challenge Africans to come out in their numbers as we witness another African giant arise in the form of CHAN,” said Mbebe.
Adding to the sentiments of the CEO, the CAF Secretary General, Mr Hicham El Amrani expressed his full satisfaction with the progress of the tournament.
“We are quite satisfied with what has been displayed so far on and off the pitch .As we enter the semi finals, we are confident that the best is yet to come. We hope that fans will come in their numbers to Mangaung to be part of the history, enjoy the games and see how Africa is gifted with talented young players. Today, we can all realize how visionary the CAF president, Dr Issa Hayatou, was when he came out with the idea of this competition in 2007,” said El Amrani.
Nigeria and Ghana as well as Zimbabwe and Libya will meet in the highly anticipated semi-finals at the Free State Stadium on Wednesday, 29 January 2014 at 17h00 and 20h30 respectively.