Song is on song as Toure hits a flat note

African Independent - - SPORT - MONTHATI MOTAUNG

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.

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