Song is on song as Toure hits a flat note
FORMER African stars Rigobert Song and Kolo Toure experienced mixed fortunes as African Nations Championship (Chan) coaches in third round, first leg qualifiers.
Song guided Cameroon to a predictable 2-0 victory over African football flyweights Sao Tome e Principe in the tiny island state off the west coast.
But Ivory Coast assistant Toure saw his country concede a late goal and go down 2-1 to Niger in Niamey.
The Cameroonians appear certain to reach the finals in Kenya early next year given that they enjoy a two-goal lead and will have home advantage in the return match tomorrow.
But the Ivorians must be wary tomorrow of Niger, who have claimed notable scalps in previous Chan qualifying, including Nigeria seven years ago.
Song was thrilled to be coaching the home-based national team after cheating death last year when he suffered a severe stroke.
“People should stop thinking that because I cheated death last year, I am no longer capable of living a normal life,” he said before the match in Sao Tome.
“I am fine and at least 80 percent of the way to a full recovery from my illness.”Cameroon scored in each half against opponents with one of the most fascinating nicknames, the “Falcons and True Parrots”.
Frantz Pangop broke the deadlock three minutes from half-time and Raymond Fosso converted a penalty 15 minutes from time in the compact national stadium.
Song was the defensive general of the Cameroon team for more than a decade and won Africa Cup of Nations titles in 2000 and 2002.
Unmissable on the field with his gangling frame and flowing dreadlocks, he was also involved in numerous Cameroon World Cup campaigns.
His club career reached its pinnacle with spells at Premier League Liverpool and West Ham United.
Toure, older brother of Manchester City midfielder Yaya, assisted head coach Ibrahim Kamara.
After equalising in firsthalf stoppage time through Fabius Dosso, Ivory Coast lost to a Halidou Garba goal five minutes from time.
Toure is assisting with the coaching while he ponders his future in the twilight of a career as a centre-back that took him to Arsenal, Manchester City, Liverpool and Celtic.
The Scottish champions freed the 36-year-old at the end of last season, but he would like to combine playing club football with his pursuit of the top Uefa coaching licence.
Toure is also a Cup of Nations champion, helping the Ivory Coast defeat Ghana in a penalty shootout after the 2015 final ended goalless after extra time in Equatorial Guinea.