Defending champions Algeria shocked by Nations Cup after blunder that cost Ivory Coast
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Douala (AFP) – Equatorial Guinea inflicted a first defeat in 36 games on Algeria on Sunday, leaving the defending champions in grave danger of elimination in the group stage of the Africa Cup of Nations after a stunning goalkeeping error by goal cost Côte d’Ivoire victory against Sierra Leone.
Esteban Obiang, one of several Spanish-born Equatoguinean players, scored the 70th-minute goal that gave his side a 1-0 win in Douala as Algeria lost for the first time. times since October 2018.
That unbeaten streak ends just two games away from Italy’s recently set record of 37 unbeaten and Algeria must now beat Ivory Coast in their final Group E game on Thursday if they are to qualify for the Champions League. round of 16.
Djamel Belmadi’s side couldn’t draw 0-0 with Sierra Leone in their opening game in Cameroon and if they don’t succeed against the Ivorians it will be the fifth time in six Nations Cups that the holders will not manage to progress beyond the group stage of the finals.
The only exception to this time came in 2019, when defending champions Cameroon lost in the round of 16.
“Everyone was talking about our invincibility but now we have to focus on something else, go out and secure qualification,” Belmadi said.
An Equatorial Guinea side ranked 114th in the world and 28th in Africa are now well placed to reach the knockout stage for the third time.
The previous two occasions came during the organization of the tournament, in 2012 and 2015, but this time many fans in the crowd of almost 12,000 people in Douala were supporting the “National Thunder”.
The Equatoguinean capital Malabo, on the island of Bioko, is a short hop over the Gulf of Guinea from the economic capital of Cameroon.
“We are very proud to beat the best team in Africa,” said their coach, Juan Micha.
It was a dramatic day at Japoma Stadium, where Badra Ali Sangare’s incredible injury-time error handed Sierra Leone a point in a 2-2 draw with Ivory Coast.
With the Elephants leading 2-1, Sangare went to catch a ball headed his way from a team-mate in the extra third minute in an attempt to prevent a corner, only to drop it in the way of Steven Caulker who squared for the replacing Alhaji Kamara. to mark.
This remarkable moment prevented the Ivory Coast from concluding their qualification for the round of 16.
Cruise in Tunisia
Sangare, who took over the gauntlets for this tournament because first-choice Sylvain Gbohouo was suspended for doping, then suffered the injury, leaving right-back Serge Aurier to see the game between the posts.
Before the late drama, the 2015 champions appeared to have a second victory in as many games stitched together thanks to Nicolas Pepe’s second-half strike.
“Honestly, I can’t explain that goal. You could have Jurgen Klopp or Pep Guardiola in charge and they couldn’t prepare for that,” said Ivory Coast coach Patrice Beaumelle.
Franck Kessie had an early penalty for the Elephants saved but Ajax star Sebastien Haller put them ahead and Musa Kamara made it 1-1 before Pepe struck.
Elsewhere, Wahbi Khazri netted twice as Tunisia recovered from a controversial loss to Mali by beating Mauritania 4-0 in the coastal town of Limbe to earn their first Group F points.
Saint-Etienne striker Khazri’s brace came after Hamza Mathlouthi’s first opener. Khazri then created the ultimate goal of the afternoon for Seifeddine Jaziri, while Youssef Msakni missed a late penalty for Tunisia.
Mali and tournament debutants Gambia are both a point ahead of Tunisia with four points after drawing 1-1 at the same venue, with Musa Barrow converting a 90th-minute penalty for Gambia to cancel out Ibrahima Kone’s 79th-minute kick at the other end. .
The final round of group matches begins on Monday when hosts Cameroon take on Cape Verde and Burkina Faso take on Ethiopia in Group A.
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