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AFCON Day 8: More draws as Group D remains tight


Cote d’Ivoire and were held by and respectively, in an increasingly tight Group D in the 2015 AFCON.

Cote d’Ivoire XI: Gbohouo; Aurier, K. Toure, Bertrand, Kanon; Diomande, Y. Toure, Tiote; S. Doumbia, Bony, Tiene.

Mali XI: S. Diakite; D. Diakite, Wague, S. Coulibaly, Tamboura; N’Diaye, Sylla, Keita; S. Yatabare, M. Yatabare, Sako.

Mali got the game underway as referee Bouchaib El Ahrach signaled the start of the encounter played at the Nuevo Estadio de Malabo. But it was the Ivory coast who made the first threat at goal as Cheikh Tiote created a chance from a cross which failed to find Wilfried Bony, and despite winning the ball back, the Newcastle United man was unable to send the ball back as their West African rivals had too many men behind the ball.

Neither side were able to impose themselves afterwards so it was against the run of play when Bakary Sako scored in the 7th minute of the game to put Mali in front.

The goal came after Sambou Yatabare, who spotted an unmarked Sako making a run with Tiene caught out of position, whipped in a cross which was quickly tucked into bottom left corner by the Wolves winger.

Ivory Coast searched for an instant response, winning a corner a corner in the 9th minute after Aurier’s cross to Bony was deflected for a corner. Yaya Toure also won a free-kick two minutes later after he was pulled down by Sylla, but the Ivoriens failed to make it count.

The Ivoriens continued their search for an equalizer, with Aurier and Yaya Toure notably leading the onslaught for the Elephants who were unlucky not to grab an equalizer in the 35th minute after Kolo Toure’s header from a Yaya Toure corner was tipped against the cross bar by Mali goalkeeper, Soumbeila Diakite.

Ivory Coast continued to dominate the possession, and created a number of chances along the way. However, Mali were able to keep their opponents at bay as they carried their advantage into the interval.

Upon resumption of the second half, Aurier and Max Gradel who was introduced before the break continued to cause problems for Mali, with the latter sending a delightful chip to Bony in the 51st minute, only for the new Manchester City signing to send his header high off the crossbar.

The match suffered a length delay after Mali’s keeper Soumaila Diakite injured his right thigh in the 64th minute, prompting Henryk Kasperczak to substitute him for Germain Berthe eight minutes later.

Both sides continued to do battle after the game resumed, as Ivory Coast continued their search for an equalizer, while Mali looked for a cushion goal to secure a win. But fate favoured the Elephants more as Gradel scored in the 87th minute to grab a late equalizer for Ivory Coast.

The goal came after a pass from from Yaya Toure found Aurier out on the right, and the latter chipped the ball to Gradel who’s side-footed effort beat substitute keeper, Berthe, as both teams had to settle for a share of the spoils after ninety minutes.

Cameroon XI: Ondoa; Oyongo, Chedjou, N’Koulou, Bedimo; Loe, Mbia; Moukandjo, Salli, Choupo-Moting; Aboubakar.

Guinea XI: N. Yattara; Sankoh, Camara, Pogba, Sylla; Conte, Fofana, Constant; Soumah, Traore; M. Yattara.

Cameroon got the match underway the second game of the day, which was also played in Malabo. But neither side was able to impose themselves in the opening minutes as possession was easily given away.

Guinea however created the first chance of the game in the 3rd minute as a decent cross from Ibrahima Traore’s threatened Cameroon’s defence, but Chedjou was on hand to clear the danger.

At the other end, a moment of madness from Florentin Pogba put Guinea under pressure as the Saint-Etienne sent a straight pass to the feet of an opponent. Pogba was however quick to make amends as he put pressure on the Cameroonian to shepard the ball out of play.

The first real chance of the game fell to Cameroon’s Vincent Aboubakar in the 10th minute as he tried his chance from outside the box after connecting with a low cross from Henry Bedimo. His effort was however palmed out to safety by  Naby Yattara who stood in goal for Syli Nationale.

Cameroon had another chance at goal from the corner-kick however Stephane Mbia sent his header straight at the keeper after Chedjou had earlier headed the ball into his path.

But the Indomitable Lions would not be kept at bay for long as they took the lead in the 13th minute through, Benjamin Moukandjo, whose near post cross from a corner-kick was mis-timed by Guinea’s goalkeeper who carelessly spilled over the line.

Choupo-Moting came close with a decent effort from outside the box in the 19th, but Pogba was on hand to make a crucial block. Moments later, Choupo-Moting set-up a chance for Moukandjo down the right flank, but Sankoh was on hand to deal with the threat.

On the other end, Guinea made decent attacking forays inside Cameroon’s half, taking advantage of their pace to win a corner off Chedjou in the 25th minute. But the resulting corner was easily dealt with by the very lanky Raoul Loe.

Both sides continued to make threats as Cameroon looked for a goal to make the result safe, while Guinea searched frantically for an equalizer which eventually came two minutes before half-time, through Ibrahima Traore.

Traore received the ball with his back to goal, before turning at the edge of the box to guide the ball into the far post, to ensure both teams were level at half-time.

Guinea started the second-half on the front foot, winning a corner inside the opening two minutes, which nearly led to a goal for Syli Nationale after Traore’s cross eluded Cameroon’s goalkeeper.

Guinea nearly suffered an injury setback moments later as Traore went down after being kicked in the calf. But the player was eventually able continue with the game.

In spite of subsequent efforts by either side find a winner, there was no further goal in the game as both sides had to settle for a share of the spoils after 90 minutes, a result reminiscent of their only other meeting at the 1998 edition of the Africa Cup of Nations which also ended in a 2-2 draw.

All four teams in the group are now tied on two points from two games played so far, leaving the group very open ahead of their final group games which will be played on the 28th.

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