My soccer weekend centered around two competitions. They were the small one-day friendly tournament, known as the Telekom Cup and much more significantly, the opening two days of action in the African Nations Cup.
My weekend started with the German four-team tournament.
The Telekom Cup is an invitational competition that includes the local team (in this case second division club Fortuna Dusseldorf). Bayern Munich is always invited, due to the fact that the German telecommunications giant organizing the event, is the Bavarians’ main sponsor.
Furthermore, the tournament includes two invited teams, in this case Borussia Mönchengladbach and FSV Mainz 05.
The competition consists of two semifinals, a third place match and a final. Each game only lasts 45 minutes and if tied, goes to penalty kicks.
Spot kicks were necessary to decide the first semifinal, between the hosts and the Bavarians. The underdogs defended well with a back-five and created a few chances of their own. The contest ended scoreless and Bayern keeper Manuel Neuer was the hero in the shootout.
A Janick Vestergaard own-goal was enough to decide the second semifinal in Mainz’s favor.
Then Dusseldorf defeated Gladbach 2-0 with shocking ease to claim third place.
Bayern defeated Mainz 2-1 in the final with goals from Ribery, Ramalho and the winner from Javi Martinez.
Afterwards, the African Cup of Nations from Gabon grabbed my attention.
The host country, supposedly in a political crisis opened play in group A against underdogs Guinea-Bissau. The home team seemed quite tense and even when Borussia Dortmund star Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang gave them the lead, they could not hold on, thus conceding a late 1-1 equalizer.
Later, Burkina Faso and Cameroon played in a somewhat more eventful game, that also ended 1-1, leaving Group A wide open.
On Sunday, the African tournament opened its second group, ending my weekend in a much more entertaining note. First, the impressive underdogs from Zimbabwe fought hard, but were ultimately denied victory against Algeria by a Riyad Mahrez brace in a match ending 2-2.
In the next game, Senegal took the first victory of the tournament, by defeating Tunisia 2-0.
This tournament promises plenty more excitement in the weeks to come.