Yesterday’s Group D action between Ghana and Botswana and Guinea and Mali capped the end of the first round of fixtures in the Orange African Cup of Nations. Both Ghana and Mali scooped points each after winning their matches by slender 1-0 margins.
It is quickly emerging that no team can be underestimated. Of course the most shocking result up to now has to be Senegal’s 2-1 loss to Zambia, however, other results that i was not expecting include: Ghana slender win over Botswana, Ivory Coast’s 1-0 win over Sudan and Morocco’s 2-1 defeat to Tunisia.
So after the first round of fixtures, Zambia, co-hosts Equatorial Guinea and Gabon, Ivory Coast, Mali, Angola and Ghana are all winners. The losers include: Senegal, Libya, Guinea and Morocco.
However, though both Sudan and Botswana were beaten, they could emerge to be the shock teams of the tournament. I was really impressed with Botswana’s performance against Ghana last night.
Had it not been for John Mensah’s rush challenge on Jerome Ramalthakwana who was through on goal and only left with the goal keeper to beat mid way through the second half, we would be talking about a different result.
Mensah ended up being sent off and with an extra man on the pitch it was all Botswana from then on. Though they lost, belief in the Botswana team camp will be sky high ahead of their next fixture against Guinea as they only lost by a single goal to probably the best team in the Continent.
Sudan much like Botswana will be buoyed by their slender 1-0 defeat to the star studded Ivory Coast and could go on to build on their good display when they meet Angola tomorrow.
Today’s action returns to Group A where Libya take on Zambia and Equatorial Guinea play Senegal. A win for either Zambia and Equatorial Guinea will put them firmly in control for progression to the quarter finals.
It will be a mountain to climb for EQ Guinea as they prepare to face the wounded Lions of Teranga. Senegal won’t be taking any hostages knowing that a loss will effectively kick them out of the tournament and a draw seriously hamper their chances of progressing through to the next round.
In the earlier kick off, my bet is on Zambia carrying the day. Libya are lacking the confidence ahead of this fixture and with a very young and agile side, Herve Renard will be looking to build on the momentum of his famous win over Senegal.
Photo Credit © kaysha