Northern African bitter rivals – Egypt and Algeria – and West African football giants Ghana and Nigeria are expected to showcase the finest African football today in the two semi-finals that have heightened tension. It is repeat or revenge in both games that would decide who goes to the finals of the African Cup of Nations in Angola.
The Algeria and Egypt showdown in Benguela at 19.30 GMT is highly tipped to be a repetition of the tension packed World Cup play-off match two months ago that the Fennecs won to book a place in South Africa 2010.
Algeria would hope to register their superiority over their traditional rivals but revenge is all that the reigning champions aim at and would go at all length to achieve that feat.
“It will be a matter of life and death in that game. For both sides it will be like a war.
“For us it is a chance to show the world that we deserve to go to the World Cup and if we beat them, we will be able to watch the World Cup with pride,” said Egypt striker Mohamed Zidan.
Reuters report say about 1,800 Algerian supporters are expected to augment the already existing fans in Angola but Egypt did not disclose the numbers of fans travelling to Benguela.
“El classico West Africana”
On the other hand, Ghana and Nigeria do not have the same history of violence as their northern African counterparts but there have been a lot of love-hate rivalry spanning over 40 years anytime the two teams meet at the international level.
Geographically, Nigeria is far bigger than Ghana but the Black Stars have stood their grounds against their rivals in the world of football.
“We’ll beat them. Anytime the two of us meet there is this kind of love-hate rivalry but our team will beat them,” Ghana’s former president John Kufuor told a local television station TV3.
The Nigerians are much more experience than their opponents who are parading a new Black Stars generation as a result of injuries on their senior players. Ghana is hoping to end their 27-year African title drought in this game and victory against Nigeria at Luanda (1600) would mean a lot to them.
The Super Eagles hope to revenge that painful defeat at Ghana’s backyard two years ago when a 2-1 quarter-final victory for the Black Stars sent them off the championship.
“Every Ghanaian knows how important it is to play Nigeria.
“We are ready for them and prepared and we will stick to the game plan that the coach has mapped out for us,” Black Stars’ key striker Asamoah Gyan said.
Nigeria coach Shaibu Amodu said: “We will have to improve.
“Tradition has it that whenever Nigeria and Ghana are involved in any sporting challenge, not only football, you see the players going all out for victory.
“We did not play well against Zambia, [but] the match against Ghana will be a different cup of tea.”
Photo credit: Eurosport