Host Ghana paved the way to the semi-finals of the 2008 African Cup of Nations with a deserved 2-1 win against the over-confident Super Eagles of Nigeria.
They next face the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon who have reclaimed their claws since edging out Tunisia 3-2 in overtime.
The Ivory Coast is still the favorite for the Championship. Their composure and all-round talent were emphatically successful in a quarter-final annihilation of Guinea, 5-0. They will play Egypt, the defending champions, on Thursday at the Kumasi grounds.
The Pharaohs recently edged a determined Angola 2-1, who had a revelation in Manucho, a free scoring spirit set for Old Trafford after signing with Alex Fergusson.
The Ghana–Cameroon encounter is once again billed as the final before the final, although both teams need to polish up on their acts. They both have scraped through to this stage with performances well below their capabilities, and both teams must dramatically improve their games.
With just three days before the semi-final showdown, Cameroon will be hard-pressed to recover from the grueling quarter-final against Tunisia. Plus, Cameroon will be competing against a team who not only benefited from an additional day of rest, but also had the privilege of watching the Lions play.
This is one time the Lions will need a hero.
Etoo looked tired and legless in the last quarter, and who could blame him. The Barca sensation lifted Cameroon from the brink of disaster, scoring a record 16 goals in the process.
Etoo could certainly use some support up front, which has yet to kick in. This is something for veteran coach Otto Pfister to ponder.
Cameroon’s defense has been less than impressive, with Captain Rigobert Song showing signs of aging and having caused a few costly blunders—especially the one allowing Tunisia to equalize. He dilly-dallied with an easy, unfettered clearance and conceded a corner. From this rebound Chikhaoui pounced to send the game into extra time.
The second semi between holders Egypt and the Ivory Coast will be another match to watch, as both teams have shown a thirst for goals.
Judging by play up to now, my money is on the Ivorian Elephants. Plus, they have a score to settle, having lost the championship two years ago to the Pharaohs in Cairo.
What a sweet revenge it could be.