Equatorial Guinea: How Africa's 41st best footballing nation came to host the ACoN

As one of the smallest countries in continental Africa, what do you do if you cannot play your way to a major international tournament? In Equatorial Guinea's case the answer was simple. You buy your way in.

Aided by the discovery of vast oil and gas reserves that prompted huge economic growth in the mid-1990s, Equatorial Guinea found the resources possible to mount a joint bid with neighbours Gabon. After seeing off competition from Nigeria, in 2006 they were named joint hosts for what will be their first ever African Cup of Nations.

In a sense, therefore, the challenge is already won for the Nzalang Nacional. As a nation with just 2,300 registered players merely competing on such a stage is impressive enough. Loftier ambitions must be considered unrealistic. A comparative lack of competitive football having qualified as hosts only puts them at further disadvantage.

A further blow was the loss in December of veteran French coach Henri Michel, African football's serial hired hand. Michel cited 'repeat interference' as reason for leaving his eleventh post in Africa, leaving Brazilian coach Gilson Paulo to take over on a two-month contract that tells you everything you need to know about any plans for long-term development. Guinean officials described Michel's resignation, not one month before the team's opening game, as 'sabotage'.

One of Michel's principal complaints while in charge was over what he interpreted as meddling by the son of Equatorial Guinea's president Teodoro Obiang Nguema, Africa's longest serving leader, described as a 'despotic ruler' and accused by Human Rights Watch of using an oil boom to "entrench and enrich [his dictatorship] at the expense of the country's people."

Despite having one of the highest levels of GDP per capita in Africa according to the World Bank in 2009, social inequality in Equatorial Guinea is desperate. The most recent Household Expenditure Survey in 2006 showed that 70% of the population live below the poverty line, despite the country's newfound wealth, and investment in social-sector developments have dragged.

In 2010 Transparency International brought a case against the Obiang family accusing it of laundering the nation's riches. It reported that the Obiang family's assests - including eight luxury cars in France worth €4.2million - were worth far in excess of what the family officially earn.

Differences of opinion are often poorly received. Ahead of last year's African Union summit – hosted by Equatorial Guinea - Amnesty International reported that political opponents of Obiang, as well as up to 100 students, had been arbitrarily arrested and detained without charge.

"President Obiang’s government is already among the worst human rights abusers in Africa and the continuing persecution of political opponents is deplorable," said Tawanda Hondora, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director.

It is against this backdrop that Michel tried to bring his experience to a team facing huge challenges. Ruslan Obiang, the president's son, worked with Michel in his capacity as Secretary of State for Youth and Sports, but the pair clashed on a number of issues, team selection being one. Nicknamed 'the sorceror', Michel wanted to forge a tight knit group of preferably local based players. The president's son felt differently.

Obiang favoured a more exotic blend of overseas-based, naturalised Equatoguineans. The dispute had already forced Michel to resign once last October, but he reneged on his decision a week later. The final straw came when Equatorial Guinea's preliminary Cup of Nations squad was announced and, according to Michel, "a player was added to the list without permission."

With that in mind, Paulo's 23-man squad makes for interesting reading. Ten of the 23 ply their trade overseas in Spain, land of the old colonial rulers, while others like Brazil-born keeper Danilo, Liberian Lawrence Doe and the Cameroonian striker Thierry Fidjeu, are naturalised representatives. Meanwhile five local based players called up by Michel for the Nzalang Nacional's World Cup 2014 preliminary round qualifier triumph over Madagascar in November were omitted.

President Obiang has boldly declared that he expects Equatorial Guinea to go all the way at this Cup of Nations. "Not only do we want the national team to display attractive football and sporting values, we also want them to win the Cup. The trophy must remain in Equatorial Guinea," he stated. But really this is a pipe dream. The squad is arguably the weakest in the competition.

Defensively they can be compact - three clean sheets in their last seven games offers some hope - but in reality their current FIFA ranking of 150th in the world (41st in Africa!) tells its own story.

Deportivo La Coruna forward Rodolfo Bodipo is captain and leader, the nation's best known player, while Javier Balboa's career highlight is scoring for Real Madrid. They along with Fidjeu will be looked to for creativity and firepower.

Kicking off against Libya, the home support they receive in Bata will need to be at its boisterous best if Equatorial Guinea are to have any hopes of a respectable campaign. Tough games against Senegal and Zambia follow. It is therefore very difficult to see how Paulo can manufacture anything other than a nice bit of international coaching experience for himself during this brief stint in charge. After the tournament he will return to his administrative position at Vasco da Gama's academy in Brazil.

In managing to qualify for the World Cup in Germany last year Equatorial Guinea's women delighted the entire nation and were celebrated as heroes. Now it's over to the men.

Follow the Cup with FourFourTwo's news, analysis and new ACoN version of Stats Zone – it's all free!

Jonathan Wilson: ACoN diary 1: Volcanoes, oil & a dancing SantaMichael Cox: How will Premier League strikers fare at ACoN 2012?

1 comment


POKERSTAR88.com Agen Texas Poker Dan Domino Online Indonesia Terpercaya – Gelandang Manchester City, Yaya Toure meyakini bahwa rekan satu timnya, Sergio ‘Kun’ Aguero selevel dengan pemenang Ballon d’Or empat kali, Lionel Messi. Di mana ia telah merasakan bermain bersama kedua pemain asal Argentina tersebut.

Selengkapnya bisa dibaca di : Master Agen Judi Bola Online Terbaik dan Terpercaya di Indonesia

Toure sempat bahu membahu dengan Messi di Barcelona dengan mempersembahkan gelar Liga Champions pada 2009 sebelum hijrah ke Etihad Stadium pada 2010. Sekarang dirinya menjadi partner Aguero, yang mana sedang menjadi penyerang tersebut di Premier League dengan 10 golnya. Taruhan bola hanya di Padipoker.com Agent Judi Poker Situs Poker Online Teraman Dan Terpercaya Indonesia

“Saya sudah bermain dengan Messi dan sekarang bersama Aguero. Dia adalah striker yang fantastis, sulit memilih yang terbaik di antara keduanya tetapi Aguero sangat kuat, pintar, dan cepat,” ungkap Toure kepada Nissan, Kamis (bola pelangi agen bola sbobet ibcbet casino 338a tangkas togel online indonesia terpercaya).

Lebih lanjut, gelandang komplit asal Pantai Gading itu menilai bahwa Olb365.com Agen Judi Bola Online, Agen Judi Casino Online Indonesia Terpercaya memiliki filosofi permainan yang berbeda saat ini jika dibandingkan saat masih dilatih oleh Roberto Mancini. Ia juga menyinggung target tim saat ini.

“Dulu bersama Mancini, kami bermain lebih bertahan dan saat ini bersama Pellegrini kami total menyerang. Setiap pemain memiliki pendapatnya masing-masing, tetapi saat ini dengan Pellegrini, setiap pemain di sini sangat menyukainya,” tambahnya.

“Untuk kami, skenario yang sempurna adalah memenangkan keduanya (Liga Champions dan Premier League) tetapi kami tahu target tersebut sangatlah sulit dan kami akan mencobanya,” tuntas adik dari Agen Ibcbet ini.


Ibcbet Seiring berjalannya periode senja karier, David James malah diterpa krisis finansial. Bekas kiper tim nasional Inggris itu mulai mengalami kebangkrutan. Terpaksa, beberapa barang memorabilia nan berharga masuk daftar lelang.

Kiper berusia 44 tahun yang juga pernah membela SBOBET – Liverpool dan Manchester City itu sedianya masih menyambung kariernya, sebagai pemain sekaligus pelatih di sebuah klub ISL (Indian Super League), Agen Bola Terpercaya.

Akan tetapi gajinya di Agen Bola nampaknya belum bisa menutupi krisis keuangan pribadi sang kiper yang punya 53 caps bersama The Three Lions itu.

Sebagaimana dikutip Taruhan Bola Online Agen Bola, Rabu (5/11/2014), James mendaftarkan sekitar 150 barang untuk dilelang yang sebagian besar merupakan memorabilia berharga sepanjang kariernya.

James memasukkan 150 barang tersebut ke HilcoIndustrial, situs lelang onlineyang berbasis di Kota Napoleon, Ohio Taruhan Bola– Amerika Serikat.

Beberapa barang yang coba dilelangnya adalah sejumlah jersey kiper timnas Inggris yang pernah dipakainya, serta beberapa jersey pemain lawan yang pernah bertukar dengannya.

Ada pula sejumlah jersey klub Premier League yang pernah ditandatangani rekan setimnya, ditambah berbagai barang yang tak ada hubunganya dengan olahraga, macam sepeda klasik Raleigh, sampai sebuah mobil Rajamerah.com situs judi Poker online terbaik terpercaya.

Pulaujudi.com Master Agen Judi Bola Online Terbaik dan Terpercaya di Indonesia – Arsène Wenger kini tak perlu lagi dibikin ribet oleh masalah resleting jaketnya. Problem ini sedianya sepele, tapi kadang membuat nakhoda Arsenalitu kesal setiap kali kesulitan mengancingkan resleting jaket lamanya.

Musim sebelumnya, Sbobet sering terlihat kesulitan, baik saat berdiri di pinggir lapangan, maupun sedang terduduk di bench, hanya untuk mengancingkan resleting jaket Nike-nya (Indomasterbola.com Agen Judi Bola, Taruhan Bola Terbaik dan Terpercaya).

Kerap kali, rekaman Wenger itu bahkan dijadikan candaan dan bahkan pem-bully-an di beragam media sosial.

Tapi kini problem itu sudah terpecahkan. Puma sebagai apparel baru Arsenal musim ini, menyediakan jaket dengan resleting yang lebih inovatif. Kini, Wenger tak lagi harus kerepotan mengancingkan resleting jaket panjangnya hingga ke leher demi menahan udara dingin.

Jaket baru dari JagadPoker.com Agen Texas Poker & Domino Online Indonesia Terpercaya ini sedikit berbeda dalam hal resletingnya. Tak seperti jaket-jaket pada lazimnya, jaket yang disediakan Puma ini punya kait resleting ganda.

Kait bawah untuk menyatukan dua rel resleting, sementara satu kait di atasnya yang saling tersambung dengan kait bawahnya, berguna untuk memudahkan Wenger menaikkan resletingnya.

“Di BOLAWIN88.COM BANDAR TARUHAN AGEN JUDI BOLA CASINO POKER DOMINO BOLATANGKAS DAN TOGEL ONLINE TERPERCAYA INDONESIA, kami tahu bahwa sepakbola tidak bisa diprediksi. Anda harus siap untuk hal apapun, baik itu lawan yang berat maupun cuaca yang buruk,” papar Puma dalam komersial barunya.

“Ada banyak macam hal yang bisa mengubah pertandingan. Jika Anda seorang pelatih, Anda butuh fokus. Anda tak bisa membiarkan apapun memecah fokus Anda, termasuk masalah resleting,” lanjut pernyataan apparel asal JINPOKER.COM Agen Judi Poker Online dan Domino Online Indonesia Terpercaya itu.