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AFCON Day 7: Group C wide open with Algeria’s loss to Ghana as Senegal draw against South Africa
Ghana vs Algeria
Ghana: Brimah, Afful, Rahman, Amartey, Mensah, Acquah, A. Ayew, Badu, Atsu, Gyan, J. Ayew.
Algeria: M’Bolhi, Mandi, Bougherra, Medjani, Ghoulam, Lacen, Taider, Bentaleb, Brahimi, Feghouli, Belfodil.
In what is turning out to be an on-going theme of late, dramatic goals in the ‘Group of Death,’ Ghanaian captain Asamoah Gyan captured an unlikely win for Ghana when he buried a long ball with one minute left in stoppage time in a thrilling 1-0 victory.
After missing the first match against Senegal due to a bout of Malaria, the striker has put the Black Stars back into contention for the tournament. The win for Ghana also ties them with Algeria with three points a side, leaving Group C open for anyone’s taking.
Fans who attended the match at Estadio de Mongomo had little to cheer for during a lackluster first half with both sides struggling to find much offensive chemistry until the 20-minute mark, when Nabil Bentaleb made a late run into the box but sent his right-footed shot wide from 12 yards out.
The Desert Eagles would not have any significant opportunities to put them ahead before the end of a first half where tempers began to flair as each side continued to commit sloppy errors and poorly-timed tackles.
Ghana emerged in the second half more energized, but neither team was able to capitalize off of chances including a shot by Bentaleb that whistled slightly wide in the 62nd minute. Ghana countered with an identical opportunity on the opposite end with Gyan sending his shot wide in the 63rd minute.
As time began to wind down and a looming draw at hand, Wakaso Mubarak sent a hopeful long ball that found Gyan in his stride. While making a diagonal run, the captain then struck a bobbling ball that bested goalkeeper Rais M’Bolhi from a tight angle in the 92nd minute.
A visibly stunned Algeria walked off the pitch in disbelief as Ghana players triumphed by lifting Gyan off of his feet in celebration.
Algeria’s coach Christian Gourcuff remained at the helm for the Desert Foxes despite the death of his mother yesterday.“It’s cruel to lose a game in the last minute, and it fundamentally changes the group,” he said to Reuters after the match.
Group C will conclude on January 27th when Algeria faces Senegal while Ghana is set to play South Africa at the same time.
South Africa vs Senegal
South Africa: Mabokgwane, Ngcongca, Matlaba, Hlatshwayo, Mathoho, Furman, Jali, Manyisa, Phala, Vilakazi, Rantie.
Senegal: Coundoul, Gassama, Mbodji, Sané, M’Bengue, ‘Diaye, Gueye, Diop, Sadio Mané, Sow, Mame Diouf.
Kara Mbodji’s equalizer cancelled Oupa Manyisa’s opening goal as the two sides settle for a 1-1 draw in the second Group C showdown.
With an earlier win by Ghana, the last round of matches will determine which two teams move through the ‘Group of Death’ and into the next stage of the tournament.
South Africa wasted no time in putting a dull first-half behind them by opening up the scoring when an angled cross found Oupa Manyisa that beat Senegal keeper Bouna Coundoul on a low shot to the far post in the 46th minute.
Senegal thought they had equalized in the 57th minute after South African goalkeeper Jackson Mabokgwane spilled a header off a free kick that Sadio Mane tapped into the goal. The assistant’s flag went up despite Mane not being offside, but the play was ruled so because the linesmen felt other players had interfered with the play.
Senegal would get on the board shortly after at the 60th minute. After being awarded a free-kick, Pape Bouba Diop sent a towering ball from 40 yards out that found an unguarded Kara Mbodji, who used every bit of his 1.92 meter stature to deliver a strong header past Mabokgwane, who was caught in no-man’s land.
Following the equalizer, the momentum appeared to be in Senegal’s favor, but the Lions of Teranga were not able to solve Mabokgwane despite testing him on a number of occasions. South Africa on the other hand, continued to go tit-for-tat with Senegal but failed to push through the opposition’s defense.
With the final whistle looming, neither team appeared to be content with a draw and continued pressing with the last chance coming from Tokelo Rantie who attempted to find Vilakazi on a chip pass, but the play was cleared away by Senegal as time expired.
The Group C Table is as follows :