The final group stage was marred with controversy and an embarrassing draw for Ivory Coast. Togo has qualified and will play against Burkina Faso, while Ivory Coast is up against Nigeria. ANT SIMS wraps up the action from the final round of the group stages.
WHO PLAYED AND WHAT HAPPENED?
Ivory Coast 2-2 Algeria
Togo 1-1 Tunisia
Togo made it to the quarter-finals of the Africa Nations Cup for the first time ever. Despite two penalties being awarded to Tunisia, who missed one, Togo managed to cling on for a draw to make their way into the last eight. Luck just wasn’t on Togo’s side on Wednesday night, though, and a few more feathers were ruffled when Emmanuel Adeybayor was basically taken down with a shoulder charge in the box – and there was no penalty awarded.
Serge Gakpe scored for Togo early on and Tunisia equalised through a penalty a few minutes later, when Walid Hichri went down easily under pressure from Dare Nibombe. Mouelhi scored from the spot after missing earlier.
Ivory Coast played a dead rubber against Algeria, since Ivory Coast had already qualified and Algeria had already been dumped out of the tournament – so there wasn’t much to play for. The game was mostly dull until the 64th minute.
Algeria took the lead through a spot kick after a hand ball was given against Arthur Bokam. Algeria got its first goal of the entire tournament courtesy of Sofiane Feghouli. The team scored again just six minutes later, through Hilal Soudani, with Feghouli being the provider of the cross this time. Algeria missed a first-half penalty through Ryad Boudebouz, but the action was pretty dull after that, until the second half, of course. Four goals came in 16 minutes and Ivory Coast hit back in the 77th minute when Didier Drogba out-jumped the defence to head home. Just minutes later, Wilfried Bony took a huge deflection off Algerian defender Djamel Mesbah for the equaliser, and Ivory Coast was spared some blushes.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN IN CONTEXT?
Burkina Faso will play Togo while Ivory Coast will face Nigeria. The group stages are now done and dusted, and the knock-out rounds are around the corner. No points here – you snooze, you lose – and penalties could decide the outcome for a few of the matches.
“I’ve watched all the games of the competition and I’ve seen South Africa as one of the most well-prepared so far. You can see the coach knows all the players; physically they are in great shape and they run a lot. Physically I don’t see them having any problems because they have other important attributes in their own game. I think they will have a 60-40 advantage going into the game; it’s logical. When you play at home with the atmosphere, the crowd and the whole country behind you, it’s normal. But I know we have a chance. We will give 100% to try and qualify. I do respect South Africa, I do respect their coach.” – Mali coach, Patrice Carteron.
“There’s so many things we do off the field, we’re like a family. We get along very well, we work very hard together, we complement one another and everyone is just very supportive. So we’re a team, a team that’s united. This is a team that’s very determined, we’re showing hunger, we’re showing how badly we want this and not just for us, but for the nation.” – Siphiwe Tshabalala.
Ghana has been practising taking penalties ahead of its quarter-finals match against Cape Verde on Saturday. The Black Stars have often missed crucial penalties, and in preparation for the knock-out stage, the team has practiced its spot kicks just in case it should come down to that.
Out of the eight teams who have qualified for the last eight, seven come from West Africa. DM
Photo: Ivory Coast’s Wilfried Bony and Didier Drogba (R) are challenged by Algeria’s Rafik Halliche (L) during their African Nations Cup (AFCON 2013) Group D soccer match in Rustenburg, January 30, 2013. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings
"Have no fear of perfection - you'll never reach it." ~ Salvador Dalí