Things started to get in full swing on the second day of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations, as Sunday’s schedule featured three group-stage matches.
Matchday Two served up unexpected results across the board. Today’s column delivers all the details, with two of our players to watch getting on the score sheet.
Group A: Nigeria 1-1 Equatorial Guinea
Traditional heavyweights Nigeria kicked off the day with a disappointing 1-1 draw against a spirited Equatorial Guinea. The first big chance of the game fell to Nigeria, but Zaidu Sanusi failed to hit the target from point-blank range.
The Super Eagles were punished for their wastefulness as a 36th-minute strike from Ivan Salvador handed Equatorial Guinea the lead against the run of play.
Remarkably, Nigeria responded immediately after the restart as Victor Osimhen headed home Ademola Lookman’s deliciously floated delivery to the back post.
You’d expect the home side to build on their momentum and grab a second, but Jose Peseiro’s side sensationally failed to convert any of their six big chances as both sides settled for a share of the spoils.
The draw gave Equatorial Guinea their first-ever point against Nigeria in an international tournament, and it doesn’t get easier for the Super Eagles with Ivory Coast up next.
Perhaps they can draw confidence from their 2013 triumph that saw Nigeria draw their first match before going all the way in South Africa.
Group B: Egypt 2-2 Mozambique
Mozambique were cruelly denied one of the biggest shocks in AFCON history, as a stoppage-time penalty from Mohamed Salah spared Egypt’s blushes in a 2-2 draw.
Egypt took the lead within two minutes through Mostafa Mohamed, who pounced on a mishit from Salah before executing an exquisite turn and finish.
Mozambique may have been lucky to head into the break with a slender one-goal deficit, but they sought to fight back against the dominant Pharaohs in the second half.
Their renewed vigour paid off as the Mambas turned the game on its head courtesy of goals from Witi and Clesio Bauque in the space of three minutes.
Mozambique were heading not only for a shock comeback win against the record champions but also for their maiden victory at the tournament.
That was until Domingos Macandza fouled Mohamed in the box, handing Egypt a penalty deep into stoppage time. Salah emerged as the hero for his nation, emphatically levelling matters from the spot.
The game may have ended in heartbreak for Mozambique, but they’d have taken a point before kick-off, so they can be proud of their performance against the continent’s superpowers.
Egypt would have preferred to kick off their campaign with a win, but they’ll fancy their chances of piling the misery on Ghana, with the added incentive of knowing anything but a win leaves them vulnerable to an early exit.
Group B: Ghana 1-2 Cape Verde
Matchday Two closed out with the most shocking result of the competition so far, as Cape Verde snatched a memorable last-gasp 2-1 victory over Ghana.
Having suffered a group stage exit at the 2021 edition, Ghana were eager to stop lightning from striking twice. But after just one game, their worst nightmare is staring them in the face.
Despite making just their fourth appearance at the tournament, Cape Verde were out to prove they were no pushovers. They were the better team before the break, relentlessly piling the pressure on the Black Stars.
Their attacking endeavours paid off early on, with Jamiro Monteiro tapping into an empty net after Ghana goalkeeper Richard Ofori palmed Jovane Cabral’s fierce first-time effort into his path.
Cape Verde were probing for a second goal, but they were pegged back 15 minutes into the second half as Alexander Djiku bundled home Jordan Ayew’s corner.
Despite restoring parity, Ghana failed to establish dominance, and they were punished. A tap-in from Garry Rodrigues snatched three points for Cape Verde in stoppage time following an embarrassing mix-up at the heart of the defence.
Ghana’s title charge is already in danger as they face Egypt next. Meanwhile, having sent shockwaves throughout the group, Cape Verde will now back themselves to reach the knockout.
Senegal vs Gambia – 2:00 pm (GMT)
Looking to become only the fourth nation to successfully defend the AFCON title, holders Senegal begin their campaign when they square off against Gambia.
Group C could be one of the most competitive in the competition so the Lions of Teranga can ill-afford a slip-up, considering they still have Cameroon and Guinea to contend with.
Cameroon vs Guinea – 5:00 pm (GMT)
Cameroon will be looking to make a positive start to the competition when they face Guinea in what could be a tricky opening match for the Indomitable Lions.
Rigobert Song’s side have gone under the radar in the build-up to the tournament, but it could be a blessing in disguise as they will not be burdened as much by the weight of expectancy.
Algeria vs Angola – 8:00 pm (GMT)
Group D action gets underway, with Algeria and Angola going head to head at the Stade de la Paix.
Algeria are bidding for a third AFCON title, while the Palancas Negras have their sights on reaching the knockout stage for the first time since 2010.
How to watch?
All AFCON games are broadcast live on Sky Sports in the United Kingdom. However, several other live football streaming websites will grant you real-time access to the tournament regardless of your location.
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