29/01/12 – Inside OM – What’s Going On Down There? – News Update
African Cup of Nations
It has been well publicised just how much Ligue 1 has been effected by the departure of players for the African Cup of Nations tournament and Marseille are no exception with no fewer than 4 regular starters leaving the south coast to head across the Mediterranean to Equitorial Guinea and Gabon. Here is how our African contingent have been fairing after 2 group games.
Souleymane Diawarra’s Senegal squad have struggled to get out the starting blocks in this year’s tournament. Despite being one of the groups favourites they have twice succumbed to 2-1 defeats, first against Zambia and then due to a 94th minute winner against Equatorial-Guinea. Diawarra has played the full 90 minutes in both games so far, but the 2 defeats mean that he will be heading home earlier than expected, early next week after the final group game against Libya.
Charles Kabore will also be heading back to Marseille on the earliest flight after his Burkina-Faso team have also been eliminated. Again, Kabore has played both games for Burkina-Faso with one of his main contributions coming in his booking in the 2-0 defeat to the Ivory Coast, after a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Angola.
The Ayew brothers Ghana team have picked up maximum points from their two group games, courtesy of a 1-0 win over Botswana and a 2-0 victory against Mali. Both Andre and Jordan started their opening group game against Botswana, although Jordan was replaced on ’60 minutes and Andre on ’88. In the game against Mali Jordan didn’t feature, however Andre scored Ghana’s second after Asamoah Gyan had given the Black Stars the lead. Ghana have one group game left, they face Guinea on Wednesday, and will qualify as long as they avoid defeat. This, unfortunately for Marseille, means that the Ayew’s will remain in Africa for at least another week.
Marseille’s young guns came out the victors after a hard fought battle against Aston Villa in the ¼ finals of the NextGen competition. Marseille were winning 1-0 after Gadi scored in the 39th minute. OM’s juniors couldn’t hang on until full time though as Gardner equalised for Villa in the 4th minute of injury time at the end of the game. Omrani managed to grab the winner for Marseille in the 101st minute, before an injury 10 minutes later saw him replaced. Marseille managed to hold out for a further 9 minutes to ensure a semi-final tie against Inter Milan! The other quarter finals are between Tottenham Hotspur – Liverpool and Barcelona – Ajax.
Stephane Mbia injured a lower quadriceps tendon Marseilles 3-1 Coupe de France win over Le Havre last weekend. He is expected to be out for around 4 weeks. There are hopes that he will be back in action for the Champions League game against Internazionale, however it is more likely at present to be the Ligue 1 game against Brest.
Billel Omrani fractured metatarsal in Marseille U19’s win over Aston Villa and is expected to be out of action for up to 2 months. This is a huge disappointment for the young Frenchman who had recently been given run-outs with the senior team with Gignac and jAyew out of action.
The only actual activity this transfer window has seen Brandao recalled from his loan spell at Gremio. With seemingly no money to spend on players, Jordan Ayew at the ACN and Gignac injured this was probably a move of necessity than choice. Having said that, Brandao has looked eager since coming off the bench against Lille, and repaid Deschamps faith when netting against Le Havre last week.
There have been a number of rumours about players coming in to Marseille with the most recent being La Havre’s Ryan Mendes. The attacker obviously impressed in the recent Coupe de France game where he scored in the first 5 minutes, causing Marseille to reportedly enquire about his services. Such a move at the minute would probably suggest that Andrew-Pierre Gignac’s days at the club are numbered.
Loic Remy has reportedly interested ‘arry Redknapp (along with every other attacking player in Europe). Harry did arrive at the Velodrome to watch Remy bag a brace against Lille, however both Remy and Marseille were quick to dispel any move during this transfer window, although it remains to be seen if a move might occur in the summer.
Just as he was at the end of the summer transfer window, Gignac has been linked with a move to the Premier League, most specifically with Fulham. I thing Deschamps would be keen on this, however, Gignac’s injury has understandably put his potential suitors off. Again, I wouldn’t be surprised if a permanent move happened in the summer.
The final non-transfer this January has been that of lazy, lacklustre, lethargic Lucho. Reports from Marseille and France suggest that Lucho has now returned to Porto, although at the time of publication the full details and official confirmation are yet to be released.
Swanny (@MarseilleUK & @Andrew_Js3)