Posted by News Express | 30 January 2013 | 3,705 times
The group games of the 29th Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) holding in South Africa were concluded this evening with pre-tournament favourites Ivory Coast remaining unbeaten to confirm a mouth-watering quarter-final clash against old foes Nigeria on Sunday.
The Ivorians, who drew 2-2 with Algeria at the Royal Bafokeng to take their points haul to seven, were joined in the last eight by Togo while Algeria and Tunisia must now pack their bags and return home.
The Ivorians launched an amazing comeback after being two goals down, scoring two goals within the space of four minutes to cancel the deficit. Sofiane Fehgouli scored a 63rd minute penalty to put the North Africans ahead, and seven minutes later, Hilal Soudani lifted high for a header to extend the lead.
But the Algerians failed to hold on to the lead, which could have seen them going through to the last eight. Didier Drogba got his first goal of the tournament in the 77th minute through a header to bring the tie to 2-1, and Bony Wilfried’s shot was deflected by Algeria’s defender to ensure Ivory Coast leveled score in the 81st minute. The result meant that there will be no North African representation in the tournament’s quarter-finals dominated by West Africa.
In a way, the Tunisians have themselves to blame for their fate after wasting a golden opportunity to wrap up the match after being awarded a second penalty.
Togo had shot into the lead on 13 minutes after a surging Serge Garkpe tapped in an Emmanuel Adebayo pass at the Mbombela Stadium. The Tunisians however drew level on 30 minutes after Nibombe fouled Hichri inside the box and Khaled Mouelhi easily converted the resultant penalty kick. However, a second penalty awarded the North Africans in the 62nd minute amounted to nought after Mouelhi missed this time, blasting the ball to the upright.
While Ivory Coast meet Group C runners-up Nigeria in the quarter-final, Togo will face Group C winners Burkina Faso. The tournament enters the quarter-final stage on Saturday with Ghana taking on Cape Verde and hosts South Africa confronting Mali after two rest days.
•Photo: For the Ivorians, it's celebration time.
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