Picture : William Paul Kong scored the penalty for Nigeria !

Braces, spectacular individual plays and intriguing results mark AFCON Match Day 2.

Equatorial Guinea 4 2 Guinea Bissau.

Emilio Nsue became the first player in the tournament to score a hat trick netting in the 21st, 51st and 61st minutes of the match day-2 opener pitting Equatorial Guinea against Guinea Bissau at the Alassane Dramane Ouattara Stadium as group A kicked off day-2 matches. After his first, Guinea Bissau had an equalizer in the 37th minute from an own-goal  by Fernandez Orozco. Equatorial Guinea climbed to 2-1 in the 46th minute through José Miranda. Emilio Nsue took it to 3-1 in the 51st minute and then to 4-1 in the 61st minute. José Correia of Guinea Bissau reduced tally to 4-2 when he scored three minutes beyond regulation time. The MVP was naturally Emilio Nsue.

Nigeria 1 0 Ivory Coast.

Before this game, history favoured Ivory Coast as their opponents had never defeated them on Ivorian soil in seven previous meetings. What more, Nigeria had drawn 1-1 with Equatorial Guinea on match day-1  after Ivory Coast had defeated Guinea Bissau 2-0. In the match of near equal strength Nigeria prevailed 1- 0 courtesy of a 55th minute penalty through captain William Paul Ekong after VAR review confirmed Victor Osimhen had been pulled down by Ousmane Diomande. William Paul Ekong, eventual MVP was scoring his 5th and 3rd AFCON goal in the Nigeria outfit.

Ghana 2 2 Egypt.

The most dramatic game yet pitted Ghana against Egypt. Ghanaian scorer Mohammed Kudus, absent in the first game, found the net three minutes into stoppage time of the first half as he wriggled past four Egyptians after benefitting from an assist by Abdul Samed. Egypt did not give up after a 51st minute VAR review denied them an equalizer judged to be offside. Omar Marmoush later got it in the 69th minute after Williams Inaki miscalculated his back pass. Two minutes on Mohammed Kudus raised the stakes with a second goal following a Denis Odoi assist. But the celebration will be short-lived following a Mahmoud Trézéguet assist for Mostafa Mohamed to make it 2-2 on 74 minutes. Omar Marmoush was rated the MVP. 

Cabo Verde 3 0 Moçambique.

The Blue Sharks began their goal galore in the 32nd minute following Renaldo Mandava’s tripping of Jamiro Monteiro. The ensuing  projectile some 35 metres away by Laros Duarte caught the keeper  pants down. A penalty call by Moçambique was cancelled after VAR review well before the monumental blunder by Edson Mexer and Edmilson Dove saw Ryan Mendes take the tally to 2-0. The third goal by Cabo Verde came in in the 69th minute with a 30-metre drive by Ryan Mendes. At sunset, the MVP award went to Ryan Mendes as fans savoured the afternoon at the Félix Houphouet Boigny stadium.

Cameroon 1 3 Senegal.

The Charles Konan Banny stadium in Yamousoukro was the stage for the all-feline confrontation between Cameroon and Senegal. It was the Lions of Senegal who took the lead in the 16th minute when Ismaila Sarr’s shot in a crowded area was deflected by captain Zambo Anguissa beating his keeper André Onana. Habib Diallo capitalized on static defending to put Senegal up 2-0 on 71 minutes following an Ismaila Sarr assist. The entry of Olivier Ntcham proved tactically productive as the substitute served for defender Charles Castelleto to score for Cameroon.  But the best came from Sadio Mane whose classy finish from an Idrissa Gueye assist gave Senegal the third goal in the 5th minute of the stoppage time of the game. The MVP went to Senegalese Ismaila Sarr. 

Gambia 0 1 Guinea.

It was a match in which both sides put in their very best in fighting spirit and determination to avoid defeat. The stalemate stayed unresolved until the 70th minute when the eventual most valuable player sporting shirt number 18, Aguibou Camara capitalized from an assist from Morgan Guilavogui to ease past 18-shirted Gambian keeper Baboucarr Gaye to find the net. They would later find the woodwork in an attempt to increase tally.  Gambia stood firm, fighting tooth and nail and only being denied an offside goal in the 79th minute courtesy of a VAR check. The Gambian showing should send Cameroon to the drawing board before their Tuesday match day-3 clash of the desperados.

Burkina Faso 2 2 Algeria.

Both sides swung into action at the Stade de la Paix Bouaké determined to make capital of their second outing. The first half revealed near equal strength until the 44th minute when Issa Kaboré headed home an Abdoul Tapsoda assist. Baghdad Bounedjah got the equalizer on 51minutes finishing off a Nabil Bentaleb assist in spite of great effort from the keeper. Substitute Bertrand Traoré took Burkina Faso to a 2-1 lead from the spot on 71minutes after a VAR check had validated the penalty. Baghdad Bounedjah prevented a Burkinabe victory scoring the equalizer after a corner kick in the 95th minute. Bagdad Bounedjah was logically voted MVP.

Angola 3 2 Mauritania.

The second group D game of the day was quite a thriller with long range goals the order of the day. Angolan incessant raids upfront paid off in the 30th minute when Gelson Dala scored after the ball had bounced off the back of a defender. Surinder Amarnath gave beauty to the deliberations as he concluded a 30-metre solo run to score Mauritania’s first ever AFCON goal in open play in the 43rd minute. Angola’s Gelson Dala made it a brace 2-1 in the 50th minute when he ran all the way. Three minutes on, Aboubakar Koita capitalized on defense fumble to score their third goal. And although Mauritania lost, their second goal in the 58th minute was a delight as Aboubakary Koita lodged a screamer from near 25 meters. The MVP award went to Aboubakary Koita of Mauritania.

Mali 1 1 Tunisia.

Second group E game at the Amadou Ngon Coulibaly stadium and Mali got into this favourites from their one victory. Tunisia had to avoid a second consecutive defeat. The physiognomy of the game was thus predictable: consolidation vs survival. But the entire game was resumed in the second ten minutes of play. From a Kamory Doumbia assist Lassine Sinayoko of Mali got the opener in the 10th minute when the ball  hit the woodwork twice before entangling in the net. The arithmetic progression would see Tunisia score the equalizer on 20 minutes through H Rafia from  an Ali El-Abdi  assist to close the draw at the end of which Hamza Rafia of Tunisia was MVP. The melody of play had been: Shirt number 10 scored in the 10th minute and then shirt number 20 equalized in the 20th minute, what melody!

Morocco 1 1 Congo Democratic Republic.

After a very early minute attempt by Morocco but only saved by the hard fighting goalie Lionel Mpasi, the incessant quality play upfront by the former handed them the opener on six minutes courtesy of Achraf Hakimi who cut and deviated the trajectory of the ball from a Hakim Ziyech corner kick. Three minutes to the half, a double happening in the box saw Inonga ferried off with a bandaged head, and a VAR confirmation of the touch of the ball with the hand by Selim Amallah. However Cédric Bakambu’s kick found the upright of a diving keeper Yassine Bounou. And in the 76th minute coach Sébastien’s tactical substitution paid off with the equalizer through eventual MVP Silas Katompa from a Meschack Elia assist.

Zambia 1 1 Tanzania.

Before the match, Tanzania coach Adel Amrouche had been handed an 8-match suspension ban on grounds of allegations and comments made about the Royal Morocco Football Federation, as well as a suspension by the Tanzania FA who are expected to bankroll a corresponding $10,000 fine. The new acting duo marshaled Tanzania to the shootout with Zambia which would close on a parity. Simon Msuva became the first Tanzanian to score in two editions of the AFCON with his 11th minute strike from a Mbwana Samatta assist. A second yellow card to Roderick Kabwe earned him expulsion just before the half. However they could bounce back from adversity to equalize in the 88th minute through Patson Daka who was aided in the feat through a Clatous Chama assist. Simon Msuva of Tanzania emerged MVP.

Namibia 0 4 South Africa.

The COSAFA shootout rewound the arms of the clock to remember how South Africa trounced Namibia 4-1 during AFCON ’98 in Burkina Faso. The floodgates opened in the 14th minute with a penalty transformed by Percy Tau after VAR check had confirmed handball in the area. Thapelo Moreina’s cutback in the 25th minute helped registered the second goal through Themba Zwane. Fifteen minutes later Themba Zwane made it 3-0 courtesy of an Evidence Makgopa assist. The South Africans were not done with as substitute Thapelo Maseko benefitted from Teboho Mokoena assist to make it 4-0. Although the winner took it all at the Amadou Gon Coulibaly stadium Korhogo as Teboho Mokoena got the MVP award, Namibia had created many more scoring chances but fell woefully short of converting even one.