Morocco qualified for round of 16, Ghana hopes in jeopardy
YAOUNDE: Morocco have booked a place in the last 16 of the Africa Cup of Nations while Gabon, Guinea and Senegal are also likely to qualify, but four-time champions Ghana face early elimination after Friday’s four matches at the tournament in Cameroon.
Morocco beat Comoros 2-0 for a second win and top spot in Group ‘C’ with six points, followed by Gabon with four after scoring a late equalizer to hold Ghana 1-1 in the second game at the Ahmadou Ahidjo stadium in Yaoundé. .
Jim Allevinah’s 88th-minute strike is almost certain to see Gabon through, if not as one of the top two in the group, but as one of the best four thirds in the six groups.
But Ghana are in one point danger and must beat Comoros in their final group game in Garoua on Tuesday to have any chance of advancing as they seek their first title in 40 years.
The match ended in a disreputable punch after being littered with insignificant fouls with Ghana’s Benjamin Tetteh sent off for a savage punch thrown in the post-match fracas.
Ghana’s anger erupted at the end as they felt Gabon’s goal went against the spirit of the game. Ghana had intentionally knocked the ball out of play so that one of their players could attract the attention of medical personnel. Gabon didn’t return it and instead started a move that ended with substitute Allevinah sweeping a shot past Ghana keeper Jojo Wollacott and into the bottom right corner.
“It’s very small of them. Very small. I am disappointed with them,” said Ghana captain Andre Ayew.
It had started so well for Ayew when he netted one of the tournament goals in the 18th minute. He turned away from his marker and hit a ranged shot that exploded into the bottom left corner.
Gabon’s point was wildly celebrated by their side and made even sweeter by the Confederation of African Football’s refusal before the match to let their captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang participate, even though he was training on the eve of the shock after being freed from Covid-19. 19 quarantine.
According to the CAF medical committee, the players Aubameyang, Axel Meye and Mario Lemina, “barely out of Covid isolation, cannot take part in this match”.
“Medical examinations show heart damage and CAF did not want to take any risks,” the Gabonese Football Federation tweeted.
Earlier, Selim Amallah gave 1976 champions Morocco an early lead and then set up substitute Zakaria Aboukhlal to seal victory a minute from time.
Morocco need only a draw against Gabon to finish group winners while Indian Ocean island nation Comoros are still in search of their first goal and a point for their first ever Nations Cup.
Senegal continued to struggle at the start of their African Cup and drew 0-0 with Guinea in Group ‘B’, although the result left both teams in good shape to qualify.
The battle of Liverpool stars Sadio Mane of Senegal and Naby Keita of Guinea never quite materialized at Kouekong Stadium in the western Cameroons town of Bafoussam. Keita, however, received a yellow card for a foul on Mane.
Guinea and Senegal remain neck and neck in the lead with four points.
Senegal coach Aliou Cisse later said he had to remove midfielder Papa Gueye from the starting line-up on FIFA’s orders.
“Pape Gueye had an administrative problem just before the match kicked off. Five minutes before, we were informed that FIFA had suspended him for a transfer between his club, Marseille, and Watford,” Cisse told reporters.
His lawyer warned us this morning around 11 a.m., but just before the appointment we had confirmation. That’s why we removed him from the score sheet.
Senegal were already without 10 players in the COVID-19 lockdown and their depleted resources resulted in a disappointing performance.
Malawi beat Zimbabwe 2-1, coming from 1-0 down with a brace from Frank Mhango in the other Group ‘B’ game and also lined up for a place in the last 16.
Posted in Dawn, January 16, 2022