January 23 – Seven-time champions Egypt somehow squeezed through to the last 16 at the Africa Cup of Nations on Monday after drawing 2-2 with Cape Verde following a dramatic finale to Group B.
Egypt, without the injured Mohamed Salah, seemed certain to finish a disappointing third behind the Blue Sharks and Ghana before stoppage-time goals in both games that saw Ghana incredibly throw away a 2-0 lead.
Egypt forward Mostafa Mohamed netted what looked to be a 93rd-minute winner, only for Cape Verde to level six minutes later.
But with the Pharaohs seemingly on the verge of elimination with some of their players sinking to their knees, Ghana somehow conspired to concede a 91st-minute penalty and then a 94th-minute equaliser against Mozambique in the other final group game.
That, remarkably, in the process sent Egypt – runners up on the last two occasions – into the knockout phase despite drawing all three group stage games while Ghana are highly unlikely to qualify as one of the best third-placed teams.
Ghana boss Chris Hughton said he was as angry and frustrated as any of the Ghanaian supporters.
“Anything past this moment is not for me to talk about,” he added when asked whether he thought he might be fired.
The drama didn’t end there with host nation Ivory Coast on the brink of a humiliating exit from their own tournament after a shock 4-0 defeat by Equatorial Guinea.
Equatorial Guinea were confirmed as the surprise group winners ahead of the three-time champions Nigeria.
“It’s a nightmare we have lived through,” said Ivory Coast coach Jean-Louis Gasset. “I didn’t feel any tension among my players at the start of the match, it was in line with our plan, to try to dominate them, set the pace and open the score. We were surprised on the counter-attack. In football, efficiency is essential, and the opponent gave us a lesson in realism.”
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