This Day in AFCON with Mikel & Moses / Chelsea U21 vs. Middlesborough U21 / Open Thread

Oscar demonstrates proper ball-retrieval procedures - Michael Steele

Are you ready for some football? A Friday night party?

Let's all forget about ballboy-gate (thanks, media!), Hazard's suspension (thanks, Eden!), and David Luiz's injury (thanks, he-who-must-not-be-named!) for a minute and talk about some actual football. Or at least watch some actual football. Or whatever it is that passes for football at the AFCON - then again, even some of the worst teams at that tournament have played better than Chelsea did on Wednesday.

Positive thoughts, positive thoughts. Woosah.

Up first, at 10 A.M. EST, we have defending champions Zambia vs. Nigeria and its contingent of Chelsea boys. The Super Eagles disappointingly drew with Burkina Faso in their opening match, with a 90th minute equalizer wasting a good display from John Obi Mikel. Zambia was also held in their opener, despite getting to play against 10-men Ethiopia for most of the match. Ethiopia even managed to miss a penalty kick early on, before their goalkeeper's crouching tiger hidden kung-fu kick to the groin action. Crazy business, that.

The latest word on Victor Moses is that he has recovered from the hamstring problem that kept him out of the first match - this better not be another David Luiz situation though! (Positive thoughts; positive thoughts.) Kenneth Omeruo should be in line for a start as well, replacing the suspended Efe Ambrose in the starting lineup.

The second AFCON match of the group and the day will kick off at 1 P.M. EST. This one may be... interesting? I can only hope we get the same announcer as for the Nigeria vs. Burkina Faso match because that guy was worth the price of admission alone. As before, both AFCON matches will stream live on ESPN3 (USA).

Not that it will matter much when 2:05 P.M. EST rolls around, at which point I will be switching over to Chelsea TV to catch the U21s host Middlesborough in U21 Premier League action. About two weeks back, Chelsea U21 kicked off the second phase of their league campaign with an easy 2-0 victory over Fulham, with John Terry featuring at center half for the first 45. They haven't had a competitive match since - Everton away getting postponed due to weather - but hopefully there will be no signs of rust. Jeremie Boga will most likely replace the now on-loan Billy Clifford in the starting lineup.


Chelsea U21 starting lineup (4-3-3):
Jamal Blackman | Adam Nditi, Andreas Christensen, Alex Davey, Tika Musonda | Ruben Loftus-Cheek, George Saville, Lewis Baker | Alex Kiwomya, Islam Feruz, Milan Lalkovic

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