I just got back from Paris where I was working as a technical consultant for 2 broadcasts of the African Cup of Nations for LC2. The broadcasts I was involved was Gabon/Zambia and the quarter-final match between Angola/Ghana. All broadcasts where done at the LC2 studios’ located in the Palais de Congres at Porte Malloit in western Paris to be shown in Africa.
The experience was fantastic. The commentators I worked with, Tony Jeffers and Greg Fraser, were seasoned professionals. Both commentators are involved with broadcasts of Champion League matches and other matches in European top divisions. Not only are they masters of their craft, but incredibly knowledgeable of football and other sports.
My job during the broadcast was to make technical comments and insights about the match. This was easy for me because I just had to watch the match as I would on the bench coaching a game. I had a habit of predicting things before they would happen in the matches.
To be fair both commentators made it very easy fro me. As I said these guys where both pros and handled the broadcast in a very intelligent tone and fashion. Neither one was guilty of “verbal diarrhea” which was very refreshing. Broadcasting in Europe is about the match/football and nothing else.
Andreas Evagora, who is the program director for EUROSPORT [the European TV sports channel, not the US soccer mail catalog] was responsible for putting together the broadcast crews. I appreciate very much for Andreas including me in this event. I also have to thank my old friends from France, Eric Descombes, who actually lives in Indianapolis, Noel Tosi, who is the current Technical Director at Dijon FCO, and my new friend Hamed Diallo. Without him I would have been lost through the maze they call the “ METRO and RER. “. Yes, this is the same Diallo who played last year for the Carolina Railhawks and the Rochester Raging Rhinos the season before in the former USL D1. It was both Descombes’ and Tosi’s recommendations to Evagora that got me involved.
The experience was much appreciated and time spent with my old and new friends was well spent. I also don’t want to forget the staff at the studios, a very professional group who treated me very well.
Concerning African football? Even though I only did two broadcasts, I was very involved with the tournament preparing for my broadcasts. I saw almost every match. Here are a few observations from my point of view about African football based on what I saw in the tournament;
- The most complete team in Africa is Egypt. It is really too bad they will not be playing in the 2010 World Cup. They are a very good and well coached team.
Egypt's Emad Moteab controls the ball as Egypt qualifies for the Final.
- The refereeing overall was very good.
- Keep your eye on Zambian Football and its players.
- Overall, the goalkeeping was not special, but Gabon’s Ebang had a very good tournament. The goalkeepers from Angola and Zambia also played well.
- Collective and individual defending can be somewhat of a mystery sometimes.
- Playing with a lead is a tactic African nations need to learn.
- Breaking down organized defenses is something most African teams struggle with. Good news is most African teams are not organized in the back. Gabon needs to be given credit for having one of the better organized defenses in the tournament, but Zambia deserves credit for breaking it down.
- Nigerian player Odenwingie, who currently plays CSKA Moscow, is a
very good player. Watch for a move to the EPL, even though he is taken care of very well in Moscow.
- Possessing the ball is something most African teams struggle with, even though most teams played better when they played collectively and got into a rhythm.
- Let’s hope what happen to the Togo National Team never happens to another team at a FIFA sanctioned event in the future. Politics and Sports have no business affecting the other.
- The US National Team needs to be very weary of Algieria. Even though they got thumped the other night by Egypt, they have shown they are a challenging opponent when things matter.
- Even though Ghana is in the African Cup of Nations’ final, they had a bunch of injuries, including team leaders, Essian and Appiah, giving young players an opportunity to get some experience that can only benefit them for this summer’s World Cup.
Ghana has qualified for the final without their star and captian, Michael Essien.
- Ivory Coast has superstars like Drougba and the Toure brothers, but others lack high level experience. What was the left back thinking on the third goal Algieria scored in over time? It going to be interesting to see what team shows up for the World Cup?
- Angola’s striker Manucho choked when it mattered most.
I don’t know if this will go to one of better quality of play African Cup of Nations tournament in recent history, but at least the best team in Africa, Egypt, will probably end up being Champions of the tournament. An honor they deserve.