The Africa Cup of Nations, the FA Cup and the King’s Cup in Spain all feature in this week’s review of the football world in the good, the bad and the ugly section of the podcast. Vocabulary support can be found for the words in bold at the foot of the post.
Good for Sevilla as they held on to knock out defending champions Barcelona from the Copa del Rey – the Spanish version of the English FA Cup – this week despite losing the return leg at home. The team from Andalucia lost 0-1 but after their 2-1 away victory in the first leg they progressed to the next round on away goals. This was the first time that Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola has tasted defeat in a cup competition after a spectacualr first season in charge saw his side win 6 trophies. However, Barcelona have a chance of revenge this weekend when they play Sevilla again, this team in the league.
Another continent, another competition, and another good result. This time for Egypt in the Africa Cup of Nations. They shook off the disappointment of not qualifying for the World Cup by kicking off their campaign to retain their title with a 3-1 victory over one of the tournaments stronger teams, and rivals in their group, Nigeria. The Egyptian side were impressive in this come-from-behind victory and even at this early stage must be seen as one of the favourites.
It has been a bad week for World Cup qualifiers Algeria as they lost their opening match in the Africa Cup of Nations to Malawi 0-3 and then their star midfielder, Khalid Lemmouchia has left the camp after it was reported that he had allegedly been involved in a fight with the Algerian coach Rabah Saadane.Though the mood in the camp has improved somewhat after the 1-0 victory over Mali there are reports of major unrest among the players and of course they still need to beat hosts Angola in order progress to the knock-out stages. Tough times for England’s World Cup opponents.
Well, Barcelona were knocked out of the Kings Cup in Spain, but that result was not as bad as Liverpool’s against Reading in the Third Round of the FA Cup. Liverpool have trouble off the pitch in the directors’ box as well as problems on it with mounting criticism of Benitez’s ability to motivate his side. The last thing they wanted was to be dumped out of the FA cup by a team struggling in the second tier of English football. In truth, Reading didn’t have to do much to beat an insipid, timid, Liverpool side devoid of ideas. Bad. I wonder if the manager, Rafa, will be around to watch the FA Cup final in May.
Of course the Africa Cup of Nations has been overshadowed by the attack on the Togo football team last Friday which resulted in three deaths but the aftermath has been somewhat ugly. Few would have disagreed with the Togolese players’ decision to pull out of the tournament but 24 hours later they decided they would stay and honour their fallen colleagues. This decision was then overturned by the country’s leader who sent a plane to take them home where three days of mourning had been declared. The CAF, the African football Federation, then disqualified the country from the tournament for not fulfilling their fixture, thus ruining any possibility of the Togolese returning after the period of mourning was over. Insensitive to say the least. Every effort should have been made to allow the Togolese players to come and play in this tournament but instead they seem to have been caught in a game of political football.
to hold on: to keep your winning position, to defend your lead
return leg: the second match in a two-leg tie (leg = game, match)
on away goals: usually scoring a goal at another team’s ground is more difficult than at the home ground, so away goals are more valuable in two-leg ties
shook off: recovered from, ignored
to retain: to keep
allegedly: supposedly, according to reports, we do not know if it is fact, rumour
major unrest: serious feeling of discontent, unhappiness, big complaints
mounting: growing, increasing
come from behind victory: winning from a losing position, winning even though the other team scores first
be dumped out: be knocked out of a compitition
insipid: weak, sleepy, lacking energy
devoid of: totally lacking, having no ~
the aftermath: What comes after something
fallen colleagues: Those who have died
mourning: A time to pay respects to those who have died