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VIDEO: African World Cup Qualifying Play-offs Roundup
The first legs of the African World Cup Qualifying play-offs saw a set of lively matches, plentiful in goals and with victories for Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast and Nigeria, whilst Tunisia and Cameroon failed to score goals in their match.
Burkina Faso 3-2 Algeria
The first match of the weekend took place in Ouagadougou, where Burkina Faso managed to defeat Algeria in a thrilling 3-2 match.
Early on, Burkina Faso lost their leading defender Bakary Koné due to injury and was replaced by Steeve Yago.
The match was even until the 43rd minute, when Said Belkalem stopped Jonathan Pitroipa’s sprint through inside the box, creating a penalty opportunity.
Aristide Bancé was called to take the kick, but it was poor and allowed Rais M’Bohli to save and keep the match at a stalemate.
However, just a few minutes later and just before the half-time whistle, Jean-Noel Lingani launched a cross into the box and Pitroipa sneaked in between two defenders and headed the ball into the back of the net, to give The Stallions the lead at the break.
Just 5 minutes into the second half, Algeria equalized thanks to a Sofiane Feghouli goal. A well executed sequence of passes with Islam Slimani gave Feghouli the chance to dribble the defender and score.
From that point on, the match opened up and soon enough came the third goal of the match, when Djakaridja Koné made a terrific individual run outside the box and then beat M’Bohli with a well-placed shot from a tight angle. 65 Minutes had gone by this point.
The Algerian reply once again came quickly and at the 69th minute, Carl Medjani rose higher than the rest and headed the ball into the back of the Burkinabé net to equalize once again.
Just when most people thought the result was going to remain a draw and the match was slowing down, Burkina Faso gain yet another penalty, after Belkalem handled the ball inside the box at the 85th minute.
Bancé took the penalty again, but this time managed to beat M’Bohli and score the winning goal.
Ivory Coast 3-1 Senegal
On Saturday evening, the Stade Félix Houphouët-Boigny in Abidjan saw the Ivory Coast dominate their game against Senegal, with Gervinho in fine form, taking part in all 3 goals.
Senegal got off to a horrible start when Cheikhou Kouyaté tripped Gervinho inside the box in the 4th minute. Called to convert, Didier Drogba sent Bouna Coundoul the other way and gave the Ivory Coast an early lead.
Shortly afterwards, in the 14th minute, the Ivory Coast increased their lead when Gervinho’s attempted cross deflected off of Ludovic Sané, tricking Coundoul and trickling into the back of the net.
The second half began very similarly to the first, with an Ivory Coast goal. A quick counter attack, with Gervinho assisting Salomon Kalou who beat Coundoul in the one on one situation. 50 minutes in, and the game was all but over.
Deep into injury time came Senegal’s consolation goal. A poor clearance by the Ivorian defense following a corner gave Papiss Demba Cissé the chance to score, despite Boubacar Barry still getting a touch on the ball.
The Ivory Coast are now with one foot in Brazil, only needing to manage the result in Dakar.
Ethiopia 1-2 Nigeria
The cauldron of Addis Ababa witnessed a very exciting game, and one which is an advent for goal-line technology.
The Ethiopians spent most of their game with constant passing and flourishes which delighted the home crowd, but not very effective in the attack and with its defense showing weaknesses, giving Nigeria the upper hand.
At the 25th minute, the first controversial decision of the match involved a long pass to Saladin Said, who beat goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama, but just as the ball was about to cross the line, Godfrey Oboabona managed to intercept it. Said and the Addis Ababa stadium celebrated, but the referee did not agree and play continued.
The result remained at 0-0 until the 56th minute, when Behalu Assefa’s attempt at a cross was caught by Enyeama inside the goal line, in the opinion of the referees. The Nigerians protested, but the Walya Antelopes took the lead.
A lead which only lasted for 11 minutes, as Emmanuel Emenike equalized with a powerful shot from outside the box, beating Jemal Tassew and giving the Super Eagles a massive sigh of relief.
Just as the match look destined to finish in a draw, Aynalem Hailu pulled Emenike’s arm inside the box, with the referee calling for a penalty. Emenike calmly beat Tassew and scored the winning goal in the Ethiopian capital.
Nigeria now take a comfortable advantage to Calabar, where they haven’t lost in many years.
Tunisia 0-0 Cameroon
In Rades, Tunisia and Cameroon provided the only draw of this set of matches, mostly thanks to the heroic performance by Cameroonian goalkeeper Charles Itandje.
Tunisia had the control of the game, but chances from Chikhaoui, Ragued and Ben Yahia were all saved by Itandje in the first half alone. Cameroon’s only decent chance in the first 45 minutes came from Jean II Makoun, whose shot past inches wide of goal.
The second half saw more of the same, with Tunisia taking complete command of the match, but Itandje stopping shot after shot.
The best chance of the match however, was for Cameroon in the 67th minute. A cross came in for Pierre Webó, who stumbles as he receives the ball and ends up letting it go wide of goal from a very close range.
The scoreline remained the same until the end of the match, leaving the tie wide open for the second leg in Yaoundé.
Image designed by Seif El Goweiny
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