Soccerphile’s Ross Clegg found a working PC to email in this review of the action at the African Cup of Nations in Ghana.
African Cup of NationsSo far the tournament has produced some good games and some great goals. The stadiums are just pure noise with fans all Dominoqq just making their own sounds in little groups. So whilst there is an atmosphere inside the stadiums, it is definitely not your European one.
These groups of fans are partly made up of companies who have transported workers in and they all sit together with the same t-shirts on and sing together. I heard the longest ever version of “Michael Rode The Boat Ashore” at the opening match.
Travelling between games you take your life in your hands as you can count sometime on more than one hand the number of vehicles, normally container lorries, lying abandoned by the side of the road.
The venues are not too far apart but the state of the roads means that it is something of a chore travelling from place to place. My longest journey to date is 12 and a half hours from Tamale to Accra overnight by minibus, through bandit country!
Ghanaians have been very friendly especially handing in passports that foreigners lose.
Still trying to buy tickets officially but I have not managed it yet. The police are arresting locals who have sold tickets for 2 pounds more than face value. Ghana Commercial Bank which is meant to sell the tickets, keep telling me to come back tomorrow, which is a common Ghanaian phrase which also translates as try again later.
J-League Fixture List announced
The 2008 J-League fixture list has been announced, with the season kicking off on March 8 and winding up on December 6 after 34 rounds of matches.
The highlight match of the opening round is the clash between heavyweights Yokohama F. Marinos and Urawa Reds at Nissan Stadium.
Kashima Antlers kick-off their title defence by hosting J2 champions Consadole Sapporo in their opening fixture at Kashima Stadium.
The second week of action sees Consadole Sapporo host Yokohama F. Marinos at the Sapporo Dome, whilst Urawa take on a much-changed Nagoya Grampus FC at Saitama Stadium in their first home match of the season.
As usual the Golden Week holiday period is an action-packed affair, with the pick of the fixtures the Shizuoka Derby between bitter rivals Shimizu S-Pulse and Jubilo Iwata on May 3.
Omiya Ardija will host city rivals Urawa Reds at the newly renovated NACK5 Stadium on September 20, with Omiya sacrificing a big payday at the gate in favour of home advantage, having switched this fixture from the much larger Saitama Stadium.
The fixture list is subject to change as a result of the Beijing Olympic Games, whilst qualification for the 2010 FIFA World Cup also takes place throughout the season.
League Cup Fixture List announced
The draw for the 2008 League Cup has also been announced, with the group stage kicking off on March 20 and wrapping up on June 8.
Nagoya Grampus FC
Kyoto Sanga FC
Yokohama F. Marinos
Defending champions Gamba Osaka and J-League champions Kashima Antlers enter the competition at the quarter-final stage.
Urawa Reds have pulled off a major coup by signing Japan international Naohiro Takahara from Bundesliga outfit Eintracht Frankfurt for a fee of around 180 million yen.
Takahara joins fellow new arrival Edmilson, who was signed from Albirex Niigata to replaced the departed Washington. Also joining the Reds is highly-rated midfielder Tsukasa Umesaki, whose arrival from Oita Trinita reputedly cost Urawa in excess of 200 million yen. Makoto Hasebe departs in the opposite direction, having signed a deal with ambitious German side VfL Wolfsburg.
Reigning champions Kashima Antlers have been quiet on the transfer front, bringing in Masahiko Inoha from FC Tokyo whilst farewelling former club captain Atsushi Yanagisawa, who has signed for newly promoted Kyoto Sanga FC.
Chiba side JEF United have lost no less than five frontline players for the 2008 season. Koki Mizuno is set to join Scottish side Celtic, whilst Japan internationals Naotake Hanyu and Satoru Yamagishi have joined FC Tokyo and Kawasaki Frontale respectively. Hiroki Mizumoto has left for Gamba Osaka, whilst former captain Yuto Sato has departed for Kyoto Sanga FC.
Elsewhere the other major signings so far have seen Japan international Yuichi Komano join Jubilo Iwata from relegated Sanfrecce Hiroshima, Brazilian playmaker Magnum makes the switch from Kawasaki Frontale to Nagoya Grampus FC – who saw Keisuke Honda recently sign for Dutch side VV Venlo, Lucas Severino leaves FC Tokyo for Gamba Osaka, whilst Shimizu S-Pulse have signed a trio of highly-rated youngsters in Genki Omae, Shinji Tsujio and Takuya Honda, the latter of whom will hope to be named in the Japan Olympic Games squad later this season.
AFC Champions League
Three Japanese teams will take part in the 2008 AFC Champions League, with the competition’s defending champions Urawa Reds entering at the quarter-final stage.
Last year’s J-League champions Kashima Antlers will be confident of topping a group that contains Chinese side Beijing Guoan, Thai outfit Krung Thai Bank FC and Vietnamese side Nam Dinh FC.
Gamba Osaka face a much tougher-task when they take on 2006 A-League champions Melbourne Victory, Korean FA Cup winners Chunnam Dragons and Thai side Chonburi FC.