Saturday, February 4, 2017

CAN 2017--Goodbyes and Championship Pick

Dearest Mates,
CAN 2017 
Time to wrap things up. This chapter flew by didn’t it? Twenty-Two of the fastest days of this bookie’s life Time flies when one spends it with good friends. ; ) As always, it was an honor to spend time with all of you. 

A small bout with a little personal adversity this time around. Any inclination to feel uncertain or apprehensive about the future was once again obliterated through our correspondence. Love hearing your news. Danke Schön, Brüder. As the time to retreat back in the Shadows once again beckons, I’ll treasure every connection and re-connection we’ve made over our brief time together.

The astounding temporal scope of this project means that we’ve journeyed together through seemingly infinite personal highs and lows. It’s inspiring how many Syndicate Members traversed tough times and then managed to pull themselves up over the years. Any real football analyst would wonder what purpose amateurish line-setting and opining might do for the Sport. Obviously nothing. At its core the Syndicate has always been about friends finding pleasant distraction in each other’s company and opinions.

Perhaps the most sentimental of all “Goodbyes Sections” was written at the conclusion of this very tournament two years ago:

There your friendly bookie lifted the very best passages from the “Goodbye’s Sections” of all previous chapters. I personally cannot read that post without needing a brisk walk around the block. Seven months later came the most popular of all the “Goodbye’s Sections” ; the one’s exhorting all Stateside Members to celebrate their first Syndicate-Covered-Championship.

No need for anything so verbose this evening. Our feelings are well-known to us. We’ve all just witnessed another great tournament, thoroughly chronicled in the pages behind us. We covered it all from Kabananga to Koffi. We exchanged our bets, barbs, and bulletins. Yes—in case you missed it—your friendly bookie even got the “Mailbag Section” off. ; )  It’s in last night’s post:

There remains little else to say. It’s a beautiful Saturday Night and everyone needs to go out. Don’t forget not to get too silly as there’s an important Championship Fixture tomorrow morning ; )

The absolute last thing your friendly bookie wishes to get off his chest concerns what a marvelous feeling it was to spend three weeks back in Africa. What a splendid reunion! Long dormant notions and lessons surfaced slowly out of the deepest recesses of my subconscious; life-altering lessons involving important principles such as humility, privilege, service, forgiveness love, friendship, sharing, understanding compassion, and outreach.        

Of all of the latent lessons that Africa once taught me, “remembering to smile” has lain dormant far longer than any of the others. That’s the one that proved most challenging. Never smiled more when I was over there. Those as familiar with my face as my words will tell you that I haven’t smiled much since I left. Not as easy as it might appear; not for a “World-Worrier” such as myself.

There’s always something to be concerned about….or is there?

Image result for african smileAn African Smile always proves enough to disarm even a perpetually pensive defeatist like myself. That’s the smile of someone who won’t be defeated.   

S-M-I-L-E, Vicey.

I’ll work on it. My greatest shortcoming. Smiles are contagious. They spread good-will and hope to all in their radius. They remind one just how undeniably beautiful human beings are. An African "Truth and Reconciliation Committee" once taught me the importance of smiling even under the most extreme duress. Somehow managed to forget all about that experience until recently.

I shan't forget again.


Supreme Champion of the African Football Universe—

Cameroon vs. Egypt

 Cameroon Flag vs. Image result for Egypt flag small

Bets are…ON. I’ll allow them. Loads of space left in my book for those who wish to gamble. Looking forward to a fine Sunday spent with friends both old and new. Don’t both asking this bookie about the Super Bowl. I’ll be too far gone by the time that kicks off ; )

2017 FIFA Confederations Cup.svgIt MUST be done, Lions! 

A trip to this Summer’s Confederations Cup is on the Line. The winner of this match will be the first team covered when the Syndicate convenes again this Summer. Let it be a sub-Saharan team…please. The tournament won’t be complete without one. I do not wish to wait until 2018 to cover one again. ; ) Hosts Russia qualified automatically. Australia, you may recall, qualified after winning the 2015 AFC Asian Cup. 

Chile won this past Summer's "Copa America Centenario.". Mexico...oops...won the 2015 CONCACAF Cup. New Zealand, as if anyone cares, captured the 2016 Oceania Crown. Lest we forget, the World Champion "Fatherland" will be there as well. We await one last entrant to fill the field's final slot. Let it be the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon! We've waited long enough. The Egyptians were there back in 2009. Ze Germans wish to play Cameroon.  

It MUST be done, Lions!

For Africa, boys!

My coverage of Pharaohs began with a sincere lament for all the tragedy that Egypt has undergone during six years of political upheaval that produced almost nothing at a tremendous human costs. Should the Egyptians prevail, it would indeed make a great story. Your friendly bookie wouldn’t necessarily be inconsolably disappointed. That notwithstanding, I remain a t heart a sub-Saharan African fan. As I reminded everyone in the primer.

From CAN 2017: Syndicate—Into Darkness

“So sorry, but your friendly bookie has strong opinions on the reformatting of FIFA Regions. Nothing against Arab Nations. I’d just rather watch them in a “Mediterranean Championship”. Sub-Saharan African Names are cooler, and the expansion of AFCON to include more such teams would prove most welcome.”

My opinion of the Egyptians steadily declined over the course of this tournament. I enter the legitimate grievance that they’ve played boring “4-5-1 Trap-Centric Football”. Should they once again eke-out a serendipitous victory by shutting down all the entertaining facets of the game, the tournament will end on a sour note.

Fortunately, I don’t see that happening. Fathy, Gabr, and Hegazy are completely exhausted. They looked as much toward the end of the extra-time marathon against the Stallions. By contrast, most of the “Indompitable Arsenal” is well rested and covetous. I’ve written extensively about how simple and exploitable the Egyptian tactical system appears. If Broos can’t pick a lock without a tumbler, I’ll be most surprised.


 Cameroon Flag

It’s FINALLY your time. The wait is over after Fifteen Long Years! You’re finally back on top for the first time since the Syndicate was in its infancy. Everyone gets Monday off.

For Africa, Boys!

See you in Russia ; )

THE PICK: Cameroon +1 Goal

Enjoy living your life. Enjoy it for it's own sake. Dance to the music. Appreciate the painting. Delve deeper into that novel. Make laughter and love as often as you can. : ) Live lionhearted or don’t bother living at all

We’ll meet again. The Syndicate will return. For the time being……

“Go kick a ball with a stranger”

Seriously…go kick a ball with a stranger.

--S.S. P.J.W.  


Friday, February 3, 2017

CAN 2017--Third Place Match

“Mwisho” in sight Syndicate Family,

CAN 2017Spare a thought for the Burkinabés, brothers. They ran their hearts out, producing some of the most sensationally gorgeous football I’ve ever seen. It remains difficult to fathom how a team so slick, smooth, and technical in possession couldn’t avoid the “Penalty Crapshoot”. 

There are many moments I could highlight from the constant onslaught that the Stallions unleashed from the moment they fell behind until the final whistle. 

They were unrelenting and absolutely deserved the win. The most awe-inspiring run of play culminated in Bancé’s equalizer 73rd minute. Your friendly bookie took the liberty of analyzing that spellbinding two-minute-interval as if it were the Zapruder Film. Eight of the ten outfield players were involved in the build-up. I counted THIRTY-EIGHT consecutive team touches among the eight players before Yago’s breathtaking back heel to Kabore set up the wonderful cross for Bancé. The finish itself was a work of absolute beauty, Bance ever so cooly chesting it down for the first-touch tracer bullet. Wow. One of the best “team goals” you’ll ever see.

With the second goal not forthcoming, one still felt that the West Africans had to advance based on their superior play. This feeling persisted deep into the penalty shootout. Burkinabé Keeper Herve Koffi—a seriously imposing physical presence even more intimidating than Neuer in Net—got a touch on the initial three efforts, looking like an unstoppable giant in between the pipes. The Stallions led until the Fourth Round. 

Football can nevertheless erase 120+ minutes of sure feelings in less 30 seconds. Koffi was well on the way to looking like the African Neuer until he missed his own penalty attempt in the penultimate round. That gave myself and all the other Burkinabé enthusiasts approximately half a minute to begin contemplating a loss we hadn’t dare speculate upon all afternoon. In the blink of an eye it was all over, with old man El-Haddary the hero. Ouch. Crushing heartbreak. The dreams of a football nation dashed once again in the “Penalty Lottery”. Fuck.

Solid performance from the “Indomitables” in the other Semi. The Centerback Pairing of Teiku and Ngadeu-Ngadjui stepped it up with a championship-caliber performance. The two men stood tall at the back, regulated most of the outgoing traffic out of the defensive third, and supplied us with some offensive fireworks of their own. Once again the Lions controlled the flow of most of the match without Aboubakar, Mandjeck, and N’Jie in the starting lineup. They have a much deeper team than any of us could have envisioned. It’s now off to face the Egyptians in a re-match of the 2008 Final. Feeling optimistic about their chances ; )

But first, gentlemen, we’ll have our Mailbag. It’s always a pleasure and a privilege to showcase the acerbic talent my old friends have for a quality “verbal punch”. My only desire as a humble and grateful bookie is to find time to craft a thoughtful “counter riff” of deserving quality. We duel together. We joust together. We watch together…

You guys have gotten quite good. I’ve delayed this segment three times already because it needed more work. For ELEVEN long days I’ve used what spare time I could find to re-work this section to give it the right “feel”.

True, your friendly bookie has lost some of that voracious appetite for controversy from his youth. Many of us have. It’s an inevitable consequence of getting older and suddenly finding ourselves in in positions of adult role-modeling and stewardship. Many of those with whom I started this journey with fifteen years ago are now responsible for raising rambunctious pre-teens! Christ! Help! Guess could all stand to tone it down a bit ; )

Consider yourselves warned, however. It’s still “real” and “raw”     

Friends, football, and irreverent fun. Here we go:

Updated Stats:

Spread: 14-16
Straight Up: 14-9-7

Related image
Reader (159-M): What gave you the idea to soothsay African Football?

Vicey: Did you just use “soothsay” as a verb? I don’t believe I’ve encountered such an occurrence in all my years as a writer. I prefer to use words like “augur”, “prognosticate”, or “adumbrate”. How in the hell did a Nigerian come up with the word “Soothsay”?

Image result for ancient soothsayer
Nevermind. I know full well how you came up with that word. ; )
“Soothsayers” are nothing more than bullshit-spouting charlatans. We don’t put up with that sort of thing in the United States of Ameri….nevermind.

We have our charlatans too ; (Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to read the entrails of a dead rabbit fetus in order to predict the future.  Tally ho!

Reader (56-M): I’ve almost completed work on the time machine. Need to take you back to 2013 when you last showed some talent as a writer.  

Vicey: (laughing uncontrollably…for the fourth consecutive year)

Reader (33-M): Herve Renard has been staring into my soul again.   

Vicey: I know. He’s even creepier than Pierluigi Collina and that “Baron von Trump” kid. Tell him to knock it off!

Reader (135-M): What exactly have you done for Africa lately?

Vicey: Er…..if by “lately” you mean “ever”, I’ll give you a brutally honest bi-furcated answer:

“Jack” and “Shit”.

There you are. I’ll admit it readily.

Image result for africa beautifulYour friendly bookie isn’t one of the heroes who devoted YEARS of his life to Diplomacy, Advocacy, or a Public Works Project. That designation belongs to the Syndicate Members who served their time at NGOs, Academic Think Tanks, and the Peace Corps. I do not hesitate to confer the title of “hero” upon these individuals. So many have made personal sacrifices in the name of duty, service, honor, and a commitment to humane work.

Some worked for safer drinking water, better roads, and preventative health-care choices. Others built schools and orphanages. One even worked as an AU Lobbyist for Continental Corruption Reform!

A few had difficulty dealing with the “culture shock” or the lack of Western Amenities. Though they may not have made it long in Africa, they too put in their work as tutors, mentors, and micro-lenders. They are not to be disparaged.

At the end of the day, all Syndicate Members who made some sort of concerted effort to improve life for their fellow human beings are to be lauded. It matters not who made a greater impact than whom. To recognize specific members would be unfair to those who still might fear that they have little to contribute and find themselves on the verge of giving up. Don’t give up! You’ve your part to play as well! For the record, your friendly bookie did the bare minimum: Some esoteric research, a few English Classes, and a modest amount of financial remittances. In other words:


Had the privilege of once living in Africa and I took as many valuable lessons with me as I could. Sadly, all this bookie was really ever capable of was cannibalizing news-related texts. This lead to an unnatural obsession with writing which he mostly had to conduct in the “Shadows”. End Result = Little to Nothing. Words are but graffiti in our current Online Universe. Some graffiti are more elegant than others.

Before I proceed to flagellate myself like some sort of eccentric contemporary celibate monk, I’ll at least give myself credit for posting something positive on the “Online Ether”. Hopeful words matter in a landscape dominated by vitriolic “Spite Swipes”. 

Heartfelt words for the struggling Syndicate Members who still haven’t found their place: There’s a place for ALL deep and gentle-hearted human beings.

Er…has anyone seen my whip?

Reader (101-M): How’s the “corporate ladder” treating you?

Vicey: “Corporate Ladder?”

Ah right. 101-M last reached out five years ago. He isn’t up-to-date.

FUCK the “Corporate Ladder!”  Build my own goddamned ladder….

Reader (22-M): Terri Leigh returns. Welcome Goddess!

Vicey: Someone is salivating. Salivate away! Attaboy. I’ll accept a Halftime Show. Just don’t dump any Sideline Reporters on us. Please…for the love of God…I beseech you! Spare us the humiliation of Sideline Reporters!

From CAN 2013—Semi-Finals:

CAN 2013--Well done, New Orleans! The Crescent City delivered everything an amateurish cocktail party patron could want in a Super Bowl. Nothing like a power outage to get the conversation started. Professional Sports needs more live commentators with nothing to commentate on.

“Let’s check in with the sidelines reporters. Fred, how’s it going?”

“Well Jim, the players didn’t expect this to happen. They’re wondering why this happened and wondering when play will resume.”

“Thanks, Fred. Truly valuable insight from our man on the field.”

It was priceless. It wasn’t quite “Kahn’s eating Pasta”, but it came close.

Reader (5-F): The Stallions play much too beautiful to lose. 

Vicey: I know. Rip my heart out of my chest while you’re at it. Wait a sec…you already did that ; )

Reader (12-M): Since everyone else is doing it,  I’ve decided to be an asshole! 

Vicey: Nooooo!! Don’t do it, brother! It’s all too tempting in these times. Whoever’s is loudest and more obnoxious is right…but only in their own mind.


Reader (88-M): How can you focus on soccer when Trump is President?     

Vicey: Well that’s….wait a minute. You say Donald Trump has been elected President? That’s news to me! When did this happen? I must have been too busy projecting lineups for MK Dons and Brighton Hove Albion to notice! Americans elected a bully to the “Bully Pulpit”? How madly interesting. Oh well. No comment on that. I need to get back to preparing for Preston North End vs. Ipswich Town. Ciao!

Image result for trump looking stupid….

Picking up the sarcasm? I should certainly hope so. 88-M doesn’t deserve sole credit for this e-mail. It’s more of an amalgam of e-mails I received from many disaffected liberals concerned about the state of their country.

Sigh. I suppose there’s no real hope of avoiding this topic. ; ( Some Syndicate Brothers, doubtless completely exasperated from the pointless conversations with idiots online, crave a statement of some sort. If I were to develop a thesis of sorts to serve as an analytical buttress for this response, my statement would read as follows:

Focus on what you can control. Live your lives. Love your friends and family. Work hard. Find time for charity. Do your thing and move on.

Yes…I am aware that the American Political Pendulum swung the other way…HARD. It’s indeed depressing to ponder the raging narcissistic megalomania of this self-professed “killer”. Here’s your novel solution: Stop pondering it! Move on! Engaging in protracted debates with online zealots, ruining your half-crazy sister’s Bourgeois Dinner Party, or getting into a shouting match with that cousin of yours who lives on a fortified compound in Idaho isn’t going to solve anything.  

Conservative Talk Radio got their man after eight long years of shouting and whining. Right-leaning citizens of this country have their media, however childish and primitive it may be. Left-leaners, sadly enough, spend too much time trolling Social Media for Politically Incorrect Statements in a horridly pathetic attempt to make themselves feel superior to others. Most of it constitutes some really disingenuous moralistic voyeurism.

Moreover, it doesn’t work. The vain attempts to catch Trump crossing “The Social Acceptability Line” blew up in everyone’s faces. One needn’t look further than the failed “October Surprise”. Practically everyone thought that Billy Bush tape would bury him. Nope. We as a population learned next to nothing from that tape. Celebrities possessing fame, money, and power consider it their right to make bold sexual advances toward women. A percentage of these advances are consensually accepted, based on the fact that the celebrities are rich and famous after all. Didn’t learn anything there. It wasn’t even news.

Don’t mean to digress. So Trump is President. That’s the reality. Not too terribly much you can do about it at this juncture. For better or worse, he’ll have an opportunity to implement policy. That’s the system. Forming a left-wing equivalent of the “Tea Party” is an option sadder than the prospect of dating one of the Trump Children. I’ve no desire to shriek ignorantly about the Fall of Civilization on the rare occasions that I get a day off.  I’ve no time to paint signs and placards to voice my dissent. There’s work to be done!

Image result for tea party tea bags
Elections are held at designated intervals. Those are the times to voice your discontent. The Right outright refused to accept the outcome of the previous two elections. They shrieked, yelled, harassed, and threw never-ending bitch fits at every last piece of moderate policy that the legitimately elected President proposed….all with fucking twelve bags of tea hanging over their faces! 

Sorry, but your friendly bookie simply cannot bring himself to act that way. I’m not built that way. Those Syndicate Members who tend left, should they choose to honestly examine themselves, will likely find out that they’re not built that way either.

Now we arrive at the point in the debate where leftists will argue that those of their political ilk lack backbone. They’ll incessantly insist that we should adopt the more ruthless obstructionist tactics of the opposition in order to play the game properly. This bookie knows a little something about mathematical research into so-called “Game Theory” and I can assure you that no equation is balanced in such a fashion. 

Once again there is a fundamental misunderstanding of the “Zero-Sum Game” and the Utility Functions associated therewith. If anything, treating the current political struggle as a “Zero Sum” will only lead to mutually destructive outcomes, just as most theorists have predicted for over a century.

The more sensible and sensitive people of this country need not be obstructionists. Be studiously vigilant instead. Keep yourselves current on all the Executive Orders, Policy Directives, and NOT the goddamned Tweets. That’s the best you can do. Most of it is pageantry and nonsense.  At some point Trump will gift you a disastrous policy issue truly worth fighting for….and it WON’T be a politically incorrect statement.

Want to “focus” on something? Focus on policy. Meanwhile, you CANNOT root for him to fail. That’s not what America or Western Civil Society stands for. Scientists always seek to prove themselves wrong. So should leftists.         

Focus on what you can control. Live your lives. Love your friends and family. Work hard. Find time for charity. Do your thing and move on.

I sincerely hope this “mini-essay” compels at least a handful of Syndicate Members to return to their lives. Keep striving! The pendulum will eventually swing the other way. Time’s posterity will eventually afford you the opportunity to repudiate and dislodge.

Naturally, I know for a fact that there’s no convincing Syndicate Member 2-F. I had her review an early draft of this response. Looks like I was too conciliatory. She’s a stubborn one. ; )

The closing post of this mailbag belongs to her. ; )

Reader (2-F): How dare you hide behind the “Western Civil Society” Card? Trump threatens women more than anyone else!  

Image result for Niqab smallVicey: No, darling ; ) Trump may be a despicable fucktard, but I’m fairly certain that ISIS threatens women more than he does. I’m glad that you’re not in a Niqab. That would be a waste of beauty. ;)

Enjoy driving your car and going out in public without your husband! Kisses ; )  

Thank goodness it’s time to talk football again!

Third Place Match

Burkina Faso vs. Ghana


A free-flowing and fun game awaits us in Port Gentil tomorrow. Both teams have plenty of explosive players, all of whom will be calmer and more relaxed. They’ll give us a good show. As always with Third Place Matches, it should prove interesting to see what experiments the two coaches plan on understaking. Duarte will likely give Zango and Diawara the start. Grant might opt for Tetteh, Ofori, Assifuah, or maybe even Schalke’s young phenom Tekpetey.

In an interesting sidenote, these two teams actually met in a very entertaining Semi-Final Match back in 2013.

Ah…back when your friendly bookie had more energy/time on his hands ; )

From CAN 2013—Semifinals
CAN 2013

Burkina Faso vs. Ghana


A few lines removed from our previous plunk, it’s time to smack that button again….


Yes indeed. The overrated Black Stars left this bookie with nothing left to rely upon. A controversial penalty and a last-minute empty net goal DO NOT constitute signs of encouragement. Something very important fails this version of Jerry Rawling’s snipers. Namely, they still haven’t found a way to distribute. Moving Kwadwo up front to share duties with Asamoah Gyan. The pair might be better suited on their respective wings. As ridiculous as discounting this über-talented squad sounds, they cannot be expected to function without a “Flight Director”.

A “Flight Director” may be defined as a midfield man in the mold of Schweinsteiger. The Black Stars come agonizingly close with Agyemang-Badu. The Udinese standout produces his moments. At this point in his career, he might even outplay Schweinsteiger up and down the pitch. Nevertheless, the Burkinabés possess a secret weapon with the whole goddamn Great Chicago Fire burning in his belly. His name is Jonathan Pitroipa and the two occasions he happened to appear on the score-sheet explain less about his current form than a single volcanic plume explains continental drift.

Pitroipa drives the pick. Deal with it gentlemen. Put your money where your mouth is.


Projected Lineups:

                                        “The Stallions” 4-2-3-1 

                                              Moumani Dagano            
 Jonathan Pitroipa                      A.R. Traore                      Willy Sanou
                             Charles Kabore               D. Kone
Saidou Panandetiguri        P. Koulibaly    B. Kone                     Mohammed Koffi
                                                  Daouda Diakite

                                        “The Black Stars” 4-1-3-2 

                                      Asamoah Gyan  Kwadwo Asamoah
  Mubarak Wakaso                  Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu          Albert Adomah
                                                          Christian Atsu     
Harrison Afful                Isaac Vorsah                 John Boye           Richard Boateng
                                                     Abdul Fatau Dauda

Prop Bets (as always, feel free to offer your own):

Over/Under ---4 Goals
120 Minutes—straight up
Penalty Shootout—straight up
Asamoah Gyan brace—3 to 1
Kwadwo Asamoah brace—2 to 1
Mubarak Wakaso brace—2 to 1
John Paintsil start—2 to 1
Mohammed Raibu start—3 to 1
John Boye booking—straight up
Dauda howler—straight up
Agyemang-Badu substitution (80+)—2 to 1

A. Traore start—3 to 1
Outtarra start—2 to 1
Pitroipa brace—straight up
Pitroipa hat trick—2 to 1
Willy Sanou brace—2 to 1
Kabore set piece goal—straight up
Dagano goal—straight up
B. Kone penalty—straight up
Balima substitution (65+)—2 to 1
Koulibaly substitution (55+)—2 to 1
A.R. Traore substitution (80+)—2 to 1

THE LINE: Burkina Faso + 1 Goal


Editor’s retroactive notes:
RESULT: Burkina Faso 2, Ghana 1. (4:2 PSO) Agyemang-Badu lived up to his billing as a “Flight Director”, but ended up the goat anyway with the penalty miss that sent the Stallions into the finals. It was a pulsating encounter from start to finish, replete with gorgeous efforts, fascinating tactics, and no shortage of officiating controversies.

Right Back John Paintsil got rolled up in the 8th and could not continue on a badly twisted ankle. This forced Kwesi Appiah to sub in natural midfielder Soloman Asante, who by all accounts had a lousy evening. It appeared as if the injury wouldn’t affect the outcome when the Black Stars were awarded a penalty in the 13th. Panatetiguiri contested aerially against Christian Atsu. Atsu didn’t land on his feet, but replays showed no evidence that Panatetiguiri had anything to do with it. The Antwerp center back only appeared to give Atsu a slight pat on the chest, and this some time after neither had won the ball. Mubarak Wakaso stepped forward to take the spot kick. Diakite guessed right but was too late off his line.

A period of cautious play ensued, lasting approximately 15 minutes. Bance and Pitroipa began cycling around the half hour mark and the later sent one wide. At the other end Agyemang Badu set up Gyan to fire with the wrong side of his foot. Kwadwo Asamoah dangerously lurked in the central slot and came within centimeters of connecting on a cross.

Charles Kabore served up an excellent corner shortly after the restart that Bance met with an equally impressive header. The shot rattled the crossbar so hard that the entire frame dipped. Asamoah Gyan himself hit the woodwork some six minutes later, leaving one with the impression that a goal simply had to be forthcoming. Two minutes after that, Paul Koulibaly picked Agyemang-Badu’s pocket ten yards shy of midfield. Kabore then first timed to Bance, who had already split the defense. With all the time and space in the world, the former FSV Mainz 05 rother coolly stroked home the equalizer almost precisely at the hour mark.

When officiating goes south, it truly goes south. Koulibaly delivered a vicious kick to Asamoah Gyan’s unmentionables in the 77th. The controversies continued into extra time. Prejuce Nakoulma appeared to have given the Stallions the lead in the 99th with an unreal leaping toe-poke finish, but was harshly ajudged to have climbed up Kwadwo Asamoah’s back illegally. Eighteen minutes after that, John Boye gave Jonathan Pitroipa a diabolical chop to the shins just inside the 18. Tunisian ref Slim Jedidi ignored the evidence before his eyes and shockingly sent Pitroipa off for diving. It was a disgustingly bad call.

The thirty minutes of added extra time belonged solely to the Stallions. Bance fired an expert tricycle in the 112th that Harrison Afful had to give up the body to clear off the line. Koulibaly then throttled a 113th minute rocket that Dauda did just well enough to tip over. One felt the Stallions absolutely deserved to book their ticket to the final match, particularly after the scandalous decision-making that led to Pitroipa’s dismissal (and suspension) in the 117th

Justice was serve when Isaac Vorsah and Emmanuel Clottey sent their respective shootout chances wide. Paul Koulibaly also supplied a miss to keep matters interesting. After Atsu and Afful converted, however, Diakite hopped of his line early to parry away Agyemang Badu’s stellar effort. The Burkinabes gave us a celebration worth remembering. The dramatic upset will surely go down in the annals

THE LINE: Ghana +1 Goal