After a moment of silence was taken for the three dead members of the Togolese soccer team attacked last Friday, the tournament kicked off with 90 minutes of African dancing and singing a mile outside of Luanda, the Angolan capital.
At 12 pm mountain time it was time for the opening game between Angola and Mali, while the Togolese team was flying back to Togo with three dead bodies, a result of the Friday attack.
Mali, a team lead by a number of world class players like F. Kanoute of Seville, S. Keita of Barcelona, M Diarra of Real Madrid and M Sissoko of Juventus was outplayed and out classed by the likes of Flavio and Manucho, as Angola went in to net four goals. Kanoute was nowhere to be seen on the field, while Keita was making unexplained mistakes and unimpressive passes.
Angola took control of the game in the 30th minute through a well taken free kick that Flovio drove in with a flying header. It wasn't too long until Flavio doubled up his tally, taking advantage of the disorganized Malian defense to head free between three Malian player, leaving the goal keeper helpless.
Getting into the second half, Mali started as a team in the first 10 winutes with Diarra missing a point blank shot as the heroic Angolan goal keeper waved the ball toward Kanoute, who jumped on the rebound with a bicycle kick that went over the bar. Soon after that threat, Angola took control of the game, immediately forcing Mali into fouls in the box that resulted in two penalties that were well taken to give Angola a 4-0 lead.
Unbelievable head shaking was to be seen on the Malian bench in the 70th minute, for they could not believe a team that had the likes of Sissoko on the bench would be embarrassed in such a way. It looked like a consolation goal for Mali came in the 71st minute, but it didn't take the dancing spirit out of Angolan first lady's body who was jumping and smiling after each goal. The Angolan coach then gave Flavio a break taking him out but what he had no thought of was that Mali has Kanoute and teammates that play high football in Europe and again in the top clubs in the world.
In the 87th minute, three minutes before the final whistle, Mali took over the dominance of the game and Kanoute who was unseen for 87 minutes rose high to head in the best goal of the tournament so far. Great header, but no celebration as he grabbed the ball and rushed it to the center line. With Angola still dreaming of the celebration after the final whistle, Mali rung another alarm bell though Keita who unmistakably took his shot to make the game 4-3.
Wut the wake up call for Angola didn't come until the last minute of additional time when Mali made the game 4-4 and burst into uncontrolled celebration as that goal came with the final whistle leaving the entire Angola with hands on top pf their head like " What happened!"
This game will live in the history of the African Cup of Nations as it just added another page into the tournament history book. Opening game, Angola leading Mali 4-0 until the 70th Minutes. 4-1 into the 87th minutes and then drawing 4-4 in the 94th minutes. Three goals in the last 6 minutes hasn't been done since D.R Congo took third place in Burkina Faso in 1996. Tomorrow Algeria takes on Malawi in the other group A fixtures at 4 am in the U.S., while Ivory Coast takes on Burkina Faso and Togo, a team affected by three death and 17 injuries in the Friday attack was supposed to take on Ghana but decided to boycott the tournament and return home with the attack in mind.
What's your take on this opening game?