The big story of this Pop World Cup, it’s been said, has been the exceptional performance of the African teams. Almost half of the quarter finalists, fully half of the semi-finalists, all drawn from Africa. Only one can make it into the final, though: the vagaries of the draw has meant that the great African showdown will take place right now, in the semis. Two unstoppable forces head to head here, Matt DC’s Nigeria, as strong and consistent a team as we’ve seen this time, against the more mercurial opposition of Weston Debevec’s Cameroon. Rivals and neighbours, this match must stand as a celebration of the genuinely great African pop we’ve heard throughout the tournament.

Please note that the time for voting on this match is one day shorter than usual: the semi-finals are timed to end together at midnight on Sunday 6th June

NIGERIA: Sasha ft Dama Do Bling – “Put It Down” The Manager Says: “For a while back there we considered trying to wrong-foot Cameroon with an abrupt change of direction – an acoustic soul ballad perhaps, or one of Nigeria’s many, many excellent 10-minute afrobeat funk workouts. But at this stage it seems wrong to change a winning formation, so instead I’ve instructed them to play even faster. Rave culture has not really impacted upon Naija music to any great extent, but this track from the first lady of Nigerian rap provide a hint of where it could have gone. In the spirit of pan-African collaboration she ropes in Dama Do Bling, from the sadly unqualified Mozambique, and although I’m not sure which lady is which, this song does have an excellent video where they Hadouken one another. Cameroon are an exceptional side with tremendous technique, but if they want to beat us they’ll have to catch us first.”

CAMEROON: Pan-African Cosmic Tone (PACT) – “Da Fulani” The Manager Says: “The farmer stood with the others out on their lawn, watching the recruitment consultant’s house burn down. He leant heavily on his stick, feeling older. A slim rain had begun to fall and a pair of dogs were chasing each other up and down the street, alarmed and aggressive. The fire smacked and howled, scornful and menacing it reared up over them. He turned to the clown and said, Fire is always an anti-Catholic symbol. It’s a bad omen, this fire. He took the packet of biscuits from his pocket and offered it around. You’re right, said the clown. You know, he continued, Just the other day I was speaking to a guy and he told me that he’d accidentally set fire to a Catholic church with the whole congregation inside. That’s terrible! the farmer exclaimed. It is! replied the clown, But this guy didn’t seem to be that upset by it. I asked him why he was grinning at the recollection (which he was) and he said to me, You don’t understand, a Catholic church with the whole congregation inside is the name of my dog!”

Semi Final 2: which track do you prefer?[ballot]

  • NIGERIA - Sasha ft Dama Do Bling 63%
  • CAMEROON - Pan African Cosmic Tone 37%

Total Voters: 51

Poll closes: 6 Jun 2010 @ 23:59

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Commentary Box Analysis Nigeria have found a formula which works and, rather than messing with it, they’re turning up the intensity, and this track seems strong right through the team, and the front pairing have some really sublime spells here. It seems that Cameroon might have to get round the back of Nigeria’s defence to even see the goal, and to do that they’re employing an amazingly fluid style, with players performing all over the pitch. Cameroon have often revelled in a complex, flexible style, and today’s match has a great example of this: their jazz substitute in the last quarter changes their shape completely. Will it be enough to fox the might of Nigeria?

Coming up: you know what comes next: third place play-off which is either (a) lap of honour for the heroic defeated or (b) bathetic display to an uninterested public fixated upon the Big One, depending on how you look at it.