AFCON groups blown wide open


Bafana massacre Namibia 4-0

from ALEXIS DOUMBIA in Abidjan, Ivory Coast
Côte d’Ivoire Bureau
ABIDJAN, (CAJ News) – WITH only two of the 24 participants having booked places into the next knockout – stage of the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), the groups remain wide open ahead of this week’s last round of pool matches.

Nail biting clashes await, starting with Group A, which includes hosts Ivory Coast,
Equatorial Guinea, Nigeria and Guinea-Bissau with Group B comprising Cape Verde, Egypt, Ghana and Mozambique.

Only Cape Verde, the shock package, and Senegal have secured qualification after winning their two matches.

On Monday, surprise leaders Equatorial Guinea, on four points, played the hosts at Stade Alassane Ouattara. Ivory Coast sits third on three points. They are in a precarious position.

Joint leaders Nigeria, second on the log, lock horns with already-eliminated Guinea Bissau at Felix Houphouet-Boigny.

In Group B, Cape Verde host second-placed Egypt also at Felix Houphouet-Boigny. Egypt are second but on a meagre two points.

The record holders are a point ahead of Ghana and Mozambique, who are scheduled to play at Stade Alassane Ouattara.

Senegal have qualified from Group C, which alongside Group D will be played on Wednesday.

Second-placed Guinea (4 points) will join Senegal in the knockouts if they get a point in the two nations’ clash at the Stade Charles Konan Bony.

Cameroon (1 point) are in a must-win against Gambia, already out, at Stade de la Paix.

Group D co-leaders, Angola and Burkina Faso (4 points), are in action at Stade Charles Konan Bony.

Algeria need nothing less than a victory to add to their two points. They play the departing Mauritania at Stade de la Paix.

Group E and F are evenly poised.

Mali are on four points, ahead of South Africa and Namibia, the neighbours who are neck-in-neck on three points. Tunisia are bottom on a single point.

On Wednesday, Mali will tackle Namibia at the Stade Laurent Pokou, the same day South Africa play Tunisia in the rendition of the 1996 final, which the Southern Africans won.

This week’s match is set for the Stade Amadou Gon Coulibaly.

Group F comes to a conclusion also on Wednesday with leaders Morocco (4 points), against third-placed Zambia (2 points) at Stade Laurent Pokou. Second-placed Democratic Republic of Congo (also on 2 points) have a date with neighbours, Tanzania, at Stade Amadou Gon Coulibaly.

The top and second-placed teams as well as four third-finishing sides qualify for the next round.

On Sunday, South Africa’s Bafana Bafana finally tasted victory when they thrashed Namibia 4-0 in a one-sided encounter played at Amadou Gon Coulibaly.

Percy Tau’s penalty spot kick, a double from Themba Zwane and a goal from Thapelo Maseko were all Bafana Bafana needed to redeem themselves after an opening day loss to Mali.

The Southern African derby looked like it would go either way as Namibia pressed for an early goal, but the Brave Warriors fluffed their opportunities and were brought down off their high horse of beating Tunisia in their first match.

It was one-way traffic after Tau’s spot kick.

Earlier, Tanzania and ten-man Zambia drew 1-1. Morocco and DRC played a similar shoreline, as did Tunisia and Mali on Saturday.

Also on Saturday, Angola beat Mauritania 3-2. Algeria and Burkina Faso drew 2-2.

– CAJ News

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