January 23, 2008

Soccer Night in Africa II

Over at Out of Africa I've been blogging about the African Cup of Nations, and figured I would offer something of a more candid update in here.

Despite heartbreaking power cuts (see: in the middle of Nigeria - Ivory Coast), the tournament has been a cultural spectacle and a convenient excuse to socialize and drink. The perfect way to ride out a mostly reponsibility-free last month. And the football's been pretty damn good, too.

On Sunday, Ghana belted a last-gasp winner to start the tournament. Monday, the Ivory Coast narrowly edged fellow West African favourites Nigeria through Salomon Kalou's zig-zagging wonder goal. Last night, Egypt stormed out of the gate with a surprise 4-2 victory over Cameroon, including this cracker from the auspiciously-named Zidan.

Later in the evening, it was Zambia's turn against hard-to-cheer-for Sudan. With the power out again and only two hours until game time, it was a race against time to find an adult beverage establishment with a back-up generator. We ended up at Smuggler's Inn, the same seedy joint that I wrote about in September when Zambia shocked South Africa to qualify in the first place. After hearing horn-blowers and seeing national kitsch for the better part of the day, I was ready to brave the near-riot atmosphere, pesky prostitutes and eventual drunk drivers to see the nation's gloriously-named Chipolopolo (Copper Bullet) Boys.

Though Sudan's equally ridiculously-named Nile Crocodiles are previous tournament winners, they looked wholly outmatched by Zambia's enthusiasm, and, dare I say, organization. It was champagne football from the Copper Bullets; three minutes in, a clever one-two passing move opened up space for Chamanga, who drove in a determined shot from the edge of the box. To everyone's delight, domination ensued and Zambia ended up winning 3-0, sending us into a night of erratic, honk-filled driving.

"We want Eto'o! We want Eto'o!" was the chant nearing the end of the match (Eto'o is one of Africa's most famous players and plays for Zambia's next opponent, Cameroon). I can't wait until they get him on Saturday - I'll be watching intently.

1 comment:

Scott said...

Dare I say that your soccer vocab has evolved to the point where you sound English? "Cracker", "champagne football", "clever one-two passing move", all of this terminology makes you sound rather upper-crust.