Five surreal Cup of Nations moments
29 January 2015, 13:11
Malabo - Five surreal moments from the weird and wonderful world of the Africa Cup of Nations at the end of the group stage in the 2015 tournament in Equatorial Guinea:
-- ON FIRE
It is frequently said that footballers live in their own world and that was illustrated at a Senegal training session at the Estadio La Paz in the centre of Malabo on Sunday. While Alain Giresse's side joked among themselves during a light workout, an expanding cloud of smoke rose from an adjacent residential area by the capital's central market. Children gathered on the rooftops of a nearby slum to watch the flames as the fire raged for some time before the wailing sirens indicated the arrival of the fire brigade. Meanwhile, the Senegal team carried on with their business uninterrupted.
-- NO LOVE LOST
Animosity from journalists towards the coach of their national team has been a common them at this Cup of Nations. In Malabo on the eve of Cameroon's decisive final group game against the Ivory Coast, the Indomitable Lions' coach Volker Finke found out how much one member of the country's media thought of him. "You will be aware that the majority of people in Cameroon hate you. Are you going to step down or wait until you are chased out of the job?" he was asked. "I am completely concentrated on the match," was his stoical reply.
-- HEAVENS OPEN
The Cup of Nations may be taking place during Equatorial Guinea's brief dry season, but the group game between Cape Verde and Zambia was almost ruined by a storm of biblical proportions. Torrential rain, thunder, lightning and a swirling wind made good football impossible and the match finished 0-0, eliminating both sides. The damage done to the pitch was behind the organisers' decision to move the quarter-final between the hosts and Tunisia, scheduled to be played in Ebebiyin, to the biggest city, Bata.
Morocco refused to host this Cup of Nations because of Ebola concerns, despite the fact that of the three west African countries worst hit by the virus, only Guinea qualified. The Syli Nationale (national elephant) have been well supported in Equatorial Guinea by a sizeable immigrant community in the country. Before their opening match against the Ivory Coast in Malabo, one Guinean fan proudly brandished a banner reading: "God is great. Good luck Guinea, the team of Ebola."
Ivory Coast star Gervinho was spotted unwinding on the terrace of his team's hotel near Malabo on the eve of their opening game against Guinea. Sheltering his head from the blazing sun was a back-to-front baseball cap emblazoned with GERVINHO in capital letters. The Roma forward would have plenty more time for that after a red card against the Guineans earned him a suspension for the rest of the group stage.