Weekly football conversation since 2009, with Graham Sibley, Jan Bilton and Terry Duffelen. Listen on Apple, Google, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn or your podcatcher of choice.

Weekend Boxset: Afcon's greatest hits

Having survived Blue Monday, your weekend starts earlier today with an unmissable tie in the Africa Cup of Nations.

Seven great matches to take you from Friday to Sunday. It’s the Sound of Football Weekend Boxset.

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All times are UK


Africa Cup of Nations Group C: Senegal v Cameroon
17.00 on Sky Sports Football, Main Event & Ultra
The second round of group games sees the top two seeds from each group face other. Over this weekend, every group has a game worthy of a being a quarter-final, at least. This clash between the holders and the 2017 champions, is perhaps the pick of a strong field and was the final in 2002. On that day, the two head coaches of today’s teams were opposing captains. When the game finished 0-0, both Aliou Cisse and Rigobert Song were to take the fifth penalties in the shoot-out. El Hadji Diouf sent his penalty wide, meaning that Cameroon would be champions if Song scored. His shot was saved, giving Cisse the chance to send the shoot-out into sudden death. Alioum Boukar guessed right and saved the soft effort with his knees, then Aliou Cisse fell to his. It’s worth digging out the video just for Cameroon’s classic sleeveless shirts. This year, Cameroon have provided plenty of drama off the field with the fiasco that saw Andre Onana miss their opening match against Guinea. Having played for Manchester United on Sunday, Onana jumped on a private jet to the Ivory Coast only for bad weather to redirect his flight 200km away from its intended destination. Maybe he could have prevented Cameroon conceding early in that game, a goal which came from a catalogue of shambolic defending. Cameroon equalised early in the second half, by which time they had a man advantage after Guinean captain Francois Kamano was shown a straight red. Senegal’s opener was much more straightforward: they already had the lead when Gambia’s Ebou Adams was sent off. The final score was 3-0. GS


Premier League: Arsenal v Crystal Palace
12.30 on TNT Sports 1 & Ultimate
There was a time very recently when Arsenal consistantly had problems against Palace. The Gunner’s win at the Emirates in March last year was their first home win against the Eagles for five seasons. This time around finds both clubs are at their lowest ebb of the season so far. On Wednesday night, the travelling Palace fans made their views clear to manager Roy Hodgson, in their FA Cup replay defeat to Everton. Chants of “you don’t know what you’re doing” rang out when, with his side 1-0 down and with half an hour to play, he took off Eberechi Eze. Results and performances have been disappointing and the pressure is on Hodgson to change things or get out before his contract expires in the summer. Arsenal spent their mid-winter break in Dubai hoping to get out of the funk they’ve found themselves in. They’ve lost three games in a row, scoring just once. There are plenty of transfers links, including the now available Ivan Toney, but with Profit and Sustainability under so much scrutiny right now, the Gunners may have to sell before they can buy. Those same financial rules could be what keeps Palace in the top flight if the Premier League keeps on deducting points from their relegation rivals. GS

Bundesliga: RB Leipzig v Bayer Leverkusen
17.30 on Sky Sports Football
Fourth meets first in this clash of the plastic clubs. Leverkusen maintained their top spot in the Bundesliga thanks to a winner from Exequiel Palacios in the 94th minute at Augsburg, 1-0. While not the most impressive scoreline against one of the Bundesliga’s weaker teams, B04 coach Xabi Alonso will be happy just keep the points ticking over while four first team players are away at Afcon. Top scorer, Victor Boniface was supposed to be in the Ivory Coast, but the Nigerian striker never made it after suffering an injury in a warm-up game. The 23-year-old will not return until at least April. This alone will lengthen Leverkusen’s title odds if the widely expected Bayern surge happens down the stretch of the season. Their next opponents, while dangerous, are not in prime form under coach Marco Rose. Their return to Bundesliga action after the winter break began with a 1-0 home defeat to an Eintracht Frankfurt team that will be one to watch for the rest of the campaign. Leipzig have only lost to Leverkusen twice in their stadium. The last time these two met was at the start of the season. Leipzig’s Lois Openda (a replacement to the Chelsea-bound Christopher Nkunku) scored on his league debut in a 3-2 defeat. That was the first of eleven goals the Belgian striker has scored so far this season, making him the player to watch in this match. TD

Africa Cup of Nations Group E: Tunisia v Mali
20.00 on Sky Sports Football
International tournaments with 24 teams often take a little while to get going. The fact only eight teams are eliminated in the group stage can take some of the jeopardy out of a side’s disappointing start. This tournament’s opening round gave a number of surprising result, none more shocking though than Tunisia’s defeat to Namibia. The third highest ranked team in the tournament losing to the fourth lowest. Namibia had never won a game in their three previous Afcons but were deserved winners with Deon Hotto grabbing the only goal of the game with an unmarked backpost header in the closing stages. Mali’s first game might have gone differently if South Africa’s Percy Tau hadn’t sent his 18th minute penalty sailing over the crossbar. Mali ran out 2-0 winners in the end with goals from their captain, Real Sociedad’s Hamari Troaré, and from Auxerre’s Lassine Sinayoko. Look out for 20 year old midfielder Kamory Doumbia, who plays for Brest and provided the defence splitting pass for Mali’s second against South Africa. In the last match before the Ligue 1 winter break he scored four goals in a sensational first half performance against Lorient. GS


FA Women’s Super League: Chelsea v Manchester United
12.30 on BBC Two & iPlayer
The WSL returns from its winter break, the last round of fixtures being played over a month ago. Chelsea are three points clear at the top of the table despite losing heavily to challengers Arsenal, who failed to capitalise on that win by losing their next game at Spurs. The champions suffered a huge blow over the break with Sam Kerr rupturing her ACL while warm-weather training in Morocco. She will now be out for the remaining part of Emma Hayes’s tenure at Chelsea. United finished second in last season’s table but have struggled for consistency this time around. Defeat here could see them reach the midpoint of the season seven points adrift of the top three Champions League places. Transfer speculation still surrounds Mary Earps, who picked up yet another award this week: best goalkeeper at the FIFA Best awards to go with the same award from last year and her BBC Sports Personality of the Year. New United part-owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe has yet to comment on any plans he has for the women’s team, but the fact that the women’s team of Nice, his French club, are playing in the second tier isn’t a positive sign. Her contract expiring in the summer, losing Earps so soon after letting Alessia Russo walk away would be a bad look for United. Loyalties and fan culture in women’s football are still evolving and not necessarily in ways we are traditionally used to: young fans and families new to the sport can be as much fans of personalities as clubs. GS

Premier League: Bournemouth v Liverpool
16.30 on Sky Sports Premier League, Main Event & Ultra
This is very much a clash between two sides in sparkling form, and promises to keep you entertained as the weekend winds down. From looking like relegation certainties earlier in the campaign, Bournemouth admirably kept faith in Andoni Iraola, who came in during the summer but didn’t record his first win until late October against fellow strugglers Burnley. A right hammering at City brought them crashing back to earth, but what followed was nothing short of brilliant: Iraola’s men went on to win six of their next eight matches including victories over the (dirty) Mags, Manchester United as well as taking points off Villa. Dominic Solanke will hope to continue his fine goal-scoring form against his former club. He has twelve so far, only two behind Mo Salah who will miss today’s game due to Afcon. Indeed, a wider worry for Klopp is that his top scorer limped off in Egypt’s two-all draw with Ghana on Thursday. The Cherries also have to make do with Semenyo and Ouattara who are both at Afcon. It’s a hard one to call as I think Liverpool do have a slip up in them, but Bournemouth aren’t the same side they were earlier in the season. It’s either a score-draw or Liverpool run away with it. JB

La Liga: Girona v Sevilla
20.00 on LaLigaTV and Viaplay Sports 1
Excellent results for both of these sides in the Copa del Rey midweek saw them progress into the competition’s quarter finals. This kept tonight's hosts in contention for an historic domestic double which will more than upset the duopoly which usually dominates football in Spain. The Catalans currently sit top, a point and a place ahead of giants, Real Madrid, who play bottom club, Almeria, earlier on Sunday. Indeed, it was Almeria who prevented Girona from extending their lead at the top of La Liga, holding the leaders to a goalless draw in a game the southern side should have won. Looking at their impressive form to date, Girona can probably put this one down to a blip, just like their sole defeat, which came at the hands of Real back in late September. Struggling Sevilla will have to keep the lively Artem Dovbyk quiet if they’re to get anything out of this one. The Ukrainian had bagged eleven goals this term which has him up there with some of La Liga’s more familiar names. Speaking of familiar names, Manchester United’s Hannibal Mejbri joined tonight’s visitors on loan and could well feature in this game. He joins a Sevilla side just a point above the relegation places having gone through two coaches in a campaign to forget. Current coach is Quique Sánchez Flores, who English football followers will remember from his two spells at Watford. His appointment in mid-December saw Sevilla pick up three wins, but only one of them was in the league where they need it most. No matter which way you look at recent form, last season’s Europa League winners are staring down the barrel of relegation. Home win. JB

Whatever you watch, have a great weekend.

Graham, Terry and Jan

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