11 Feb 2012

Rafa Benitez: These two 'special' players are *the* stars of the African Nations Cup...

As every Liverpool fan knows, Former manager Rafa Benitez has a voracious appetite for football, and after watching every game in the ongoing African Cup of Nations, the Spaniard has highlighted the two players he believes have been the stars of the tournament so far.

In an interview with Eurogoals, Benitez was full of praise for two relatively obscure Zambian players. He enthused:

"Always when you see African teams you want to look for the best players, those who play with quality and talent.

"I've been really impressed with [Christopher] Katongo and [Rainford] Kalaba [both of Zambia], they've been doing really well.

"We know Keita, Drogba, Toure are good players, but these two players - Katongo and Kalaba - are special".

Katongo, the Zambia Captain, plays for Chinese club Henan Construction F.C, and his three goals in the tournament so far have propelled Zambia into the final.

Kalaba spent three years at Portuguese club Sporting Braga, but now plays for Congolese club TP Mazemba.

Zambia have done fantastically well to get to the final of the Africa Nations Cup, but Benitez thinks that the Ivory Coast will have the edge:

"I think the favourite will be The Ivory Coast because they have players with experience of Internationa football in Droga, Yaya Toure, Kolo Toure and Gervinho, who can be a dangerous player too".

Jaimie Kanwar


  1.  Let's sign the whole Mali squad and part-exchange Downing !

  2. the irony of it is am zambian and big rafa fan, Bring Rafa back to lfc

  3. Doubt Liverpool will have any scouts at the tournament.

  4. Well played to them for winning the competition, especially after the plane crash that the country suffered a few years ago.

  5. I have a question for you Jamie. I usually avoid your website as I feel you let your personal bias towards Rafa (whom I'm a fan of) cloud your judgement and as a public blogger I think your views are unfair and as I mentioned too biased, but that's just my personal opinion.
    My question is, "Are you just as hard on Kenny as you were on Rafa?" Kenny has spent a lot of money so far and we are doing quite poorly. We used to be the 4th place team of the top four. We are now the 6th place team of the top 6. (Not counting Newcastle just yet).
    Should Kenny be given more time (as in one more season) or should we look elsewhere?

  6. Thanks for your comments. First, I think it should be noted that I barely criticised Benitez until halfway through the 2006-7 season, which was two and a half years into his reign, and I never argued that he should be replaced until three months before the end of his final season.

    For a variety of reasons (all of which I've outlined countless times in great detail), Benitez was deserving of all the criticism he received. The same goes for Dalglish; he is deserving of the criticism he's received this season, and any regular reader of this site will tell you that I have been been critical of Dalglish many times, especially re his conduct in front of the Press.

    I have never - and would never - call for a manager to leave after one season in charge. Whether Kenny gets more time depends on his this season finishes. If we're in 7th or 8th place in May, then I could understand if the club decided to make a change, but similarly, if that happened and Kenny stayed, then I would be okay with that.

    I agree with you that the team is doing poorly, and responsibility for that lies with Dalglish.

    I wasn't in favour of Dalglish returning to the job; my choice to take over Benitez was Martin O'Neill, and I argued this repeatedly at the time.

  7. Nice. Thanks. There might be hope for you yet. ;)

  8. Jamie Liverpool will definately struggle to finish 4th, with Henderson playing v Manure? when the mid was okay the previous game, Maxi, Bellaz on the bench KK has done himself off a job, I hope we get Rafa back