#KweseAtAfcon: Daily Diary

​The Nations Cup is in full swing in Gabon, and the action is as thrill-a-minute off the pitch as on it. Here Colin Udoh and Ed Dove provide their experiences at the tournament so far ...

30 January: Ed Dove It’s perhaps unsurprising that football supporters in Gabon are capable of demonstrating such heady highs and such desperate lows in such quick succession.

Take, for example, their vibrant passion during the Panthers’ decisive group game against Cameroon in Libreville. For much of the contest, and ahead of the showdown, the stands – decked out in the national team’s yellow – roared their team on with resplendent fervour.

Yet with 10 minutes on the clock, the supporters began to funnel out of the ground; frowning in disgust and ‘tutting’ in dismay. Read more ...

Getting on a flight - an event worthy of celebrating
Getting on a flight - an event worthy of celebrating

26 January: Ed Dove The travel arrangements seems to be getting the better of Ed Dove, who has taken to writing a poem about his many, many cancelled or delayed flights…

Stuck inside of Oyem, with the Afcon Blues again

The flight was due at 12:10, from Oyem to Libreville.

I got to the airport early, but from there it was downhill.

As the faces filled with consternation told me there’d be no fond farewell.

While the ladies treat me kindly, as they flash their golden smiles, it’s clear from looks of appeasement that I’ll be staying here a while.

“Flights today are for Ugandan players, for the Malian squad, no matter the cost.”

But I know, as I trudge away in dismay, that not everything is lost.

Deep inside my heart, this is not the end

to be stuck inside of Oyem, with the Afcon Blues again.

It’s a town of few and plenty, where the skies cascade with rain.

Estelle met me in the Bia Bia Bar, and thought I was insane,

With her slurred words, her forgotten French, and how I missed that aeroplane.

For her, the Nations Cup goes unnoticed, a foreign event in a familiar land,

And as puddles emerge and the moths pour down, she asks if Morocco are still in town.

Another day in the jungle, with the bandits and palm wine.

But there’s work to do and bills to pay, despite the tropical climes.

Deep inside my heart, this is not the end

to be stuck inside of Oyem, with the Afcon Blues again.

Today we rest and reflect, on those fallen and those who progress

On Ghanaian uncertainty, Gyan in distress

On North African promise, Algerian regret

On Cameroonian fervour and the hosts’ unforgotten debts.

All celebrate with champagne, or commiserate with beer

But as I join Panthers in their misery, lookalike tears feel insincere.

There’s a chill in Woleu-Ntem today, the circus deserting town.

They’ll be back of course, battles to fight, to decide who wears the crown.

Deep inside my heart, this is not the end

to be stuck here inside of Oyem, with the Afcon Blues again.

25 January: Colin Udoh Just landed in Port-Gentil at 19:34 with kickoff scheduled for 20:00. Will definitely miss it. Schedules for three flights on Hayatou Express delayed by CIV team. Apparently, seems they left their hotel late. And then had like a million bags that needed to be loaded, then unloaded. Totally mucked up other schedule. If they’d wanted to stay longer in Gabon, surely they’d have contrived to win ONE game? Or is that way too much to ask?”

24 January: Colin Udoh Went to the supermarket to pick up some items. While paying for pastries, a woman just slightly over middle-age pulling a shopping basket with a cardboard box in it approached me and seemed to request money. Seeing as I don’t speak the lingo, I smiled and told her “No French, Anglais”. Some 10 minutes later, as I was about to pick up my last item and head out to the checkout counter, I saw the same woman. This time she had dumped the cardboard and in the basket were a couple packs of fruit juice. Apparently, she had forgotten she already approached me. She started to ask for money again. I looked at her and said, “No French. Anglais”. And looked pointedly at her and her new merchandise. That seemed to jog her memory as embarrassment broke out on her face. She just slinked away without another word.

22 January: Colin Udoh Been calling the cab driver that I’ve used since I got here. He finally sent me an SMS today saying they’re on strike. Haven’t been paid for three months. So now I’ve got to stick with the rickety, no air-conditioned cabs ...

21 January: Ed Dove It’s match day in Port-Gentil with two big matches. Media have arrived at the airport waiting to board what has been christened the ‘Hayatou Express’. That’s a story I will tell in a few minutes. Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee we will board as our bookings apparently went in late. So, we are waiting in the lounge. Maybe we will fly, maybe not. Fingers crossed.

Update: Finally, all sorted. CAF communications director Junior Binyam came down and helped resolve the media issue. All boarded now and off to Port-Gentil. Oh, and did I mention that Cameroon icon Patrick Mboma is also on the same flight?

20 January: Ed Dove It’s been a frustrating old day for the Liverpool-born Strasbourg resident and all-round fan of all things African football. Two flights were cancelled, one bumped off, and he got his choice of outfit (too beachy) questioned by an official. Also some excellent insight into what journos will do to get to a game. Read about all the drama here!

Tough day at the airport if you are a journo ...
Tough day at the airport if you’re a journo ...

19 January - Colin Udoh: It’s the morning after the night before. Sombre mood in Guinea-Bissau camp as they review what happened against Cameroon. Looks like war council convened.

18 January - Colin Udoh: Went around town today exploring some hotel options to see if I could change digs. Reasonable (and I use that word in the loosest of fashions) was around $100. No refrigerator, no house intercom and very basic facilities. Did I hear you say pool? I wish!

In between, paid a visit to the market where I met plenty of Nigerians. Here’s the kicker, they’re actually happy Nigeria did not qualify. One chap called Ifeanyi, who sells car parts, told me: “Maybe another time they can qualify, but now Gabon is not very good for Nigerians. If they come and win the Cup here, na we go suffer am after!”

Portugal 3 7
Mexico 3 7
Russia 3 3
New Zealand 3 0
Germany 3 7
Chile 3 5
Australia 3 2
Cameroon 2 1
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