Date: January 27th, 2015
Venue: Nuevo Estadio de Malabo
City: Malabo, Equatorial Guinea
Time: 20:00 (CAT)
Match Result: Senegal 0 – 2 Algeria
Goal Scorers: 0 – 1, Riyad Mahrez 11’; 0 – 2, Nabil Bentaleb 82’
The GSV Top Class Award
Mama Africa is reknowed for producing top level midfield generals of the highest quality, players with the ability to boss the game with ease and dominate on both ends of the field; Nabil Bentaleb is the next successor in line for the title of Africa’s premier central midfielder, a 20 year old dynamic footballer with a maturity beyond his years and a desire to continually keep adding a greater dynamic to his game. After bossing yet another game for Algeria and adding to that impressive performance with a strike that could be a contender for Goal of the Tournament, a great shift that would have instantly earned him our GSV Top Class Award regardless of his previous master class showings; Bentaleb has come into this 30th edition of the African Cup of Nations as a highly rated wunderkind and threatens to leave Equatorial Guinea as one of the players of the tournament. For his impressive performances throughout the tournament and a shift that destroyed the Lions Of Teranga’s hopes of making it into the quarter-finals, Nabil Bentaleb is the worthy winner of the GSV Top Class Award, and a deserving winner at that.
The GSV Class Clown Award
Very few gaffers in this tournament have shown the aptitude to manage games well and utilise their recourses effectively on Africa’s grandest stage, yet most of those gaffers have masterminded their teams’ demise by letting their pride get in the way of making effective and well thought out tactical and personnel changes to afford their sides an optimal chance at succeeding. Senegal gaffer Alain Giresse came into the tournament as a man who belived in a 3-5-2 formation that seemed to work well for him during qualifying, he abandoned that tactic for the first encounter against Ghana and won, he then reverted back to it against South Africa and earned a draw after changing vack to a four man defence when the going got tough; then in a crunch encounter against a more defensive Algerian side that was bound to attack more then we have become accustomed to seeing them do, he reverted back to his three man central defensive approach and his side were punished and knocked out of the tournament. For his tactical naivety, Alain Giresse would already be a worthy winner of the GSV Class Clown Award; yet it was his decision to bench star goal scorer Papiss Demba Cissé for three encounters and only bringing him on when the chips were down that compound to make him an extremely worthy winner of the GSV Class Clown Award.
The Grand Stand View
The Desert Warriors went against their natural instincts and played a more adventurous brand of football that paid off for them, thanks to a defensive horror show by Senegal that was largely due to their defensive line being altered yet again; in an encounter where we had expected the Lions Of Teranga to do most of the attacking play, they were surprisingly toothless and the result will lead to an extensive period of introspection regarding why and how such a talented attacking unit could only muster 3 goals scored in the entire competition when they knew that they had the ability and the opportunity to score more. Algeria showed that their game management abilities are amongst the best on the continent as they combined their brilliant defensive acumen with an attacking streak that marks them as one of the teams to be mindful of in the knockout stages of the 2015 African Cup of Nations; Christian Gourcuff has shown that he is acclimatising very well to football in Africa and winning a place out of the Group of Death will be a feather in his cap as he leads the Continents no: 1 ranked nation into the quarter-finals where his well balanced side will be a threat as they continue to pick up form and add a new dynamic to their football.