No need for Salah. Congo knock Egypt out of AFCON with penalty shootout win

January 29 – Congo knocked seven-time champion Egypt out of the Africa Cup of Nations with an 8-7 penalty shootout win after the teams finished 1-1 after extra time on Sunday in the round of 16.

Egypt’s forgettable tournament came to a sorry end while Guinea and Nigeria joined Congo in the quarter-finals.

One of the pre-tournament favourites to lift the trophy, Egypt left the Ivory Coast without a single victory from four games after captain and star player Mohamed Salah sustained an injury that saw him leave the squad early.

Meschack Elia put DR Congo ahead in the 37th minute, only for Mostafa Mohamed to equalise for Egypt from the penalty spot in first-half stoppage time.

Egypt’s Mohamed Hamdy was then sent off for a second booking in the first half of extra time before Congo edged the shootout, Egypt’s keeper Mohamed Abou Gabal putting the decisive penalty over the bar.

It was a bitter pill to swallow for the Pharaohs, who had come to the Ivory Coast hoping to win a first AFCON title since 2010. But they stumbled out of their group with three draws after losing Salah to a hamstring injury in their second game against Ghana.

By contrast, it was the first time DR Congo had won a knockout tie at the tournament since reaching the semi-finals in 2015.

Sebastien Desabre’s team will head to Abidjan for a quarter-final on Friday against Guinea, who beat Equatorial Guinea 1-0 with a dramatic winner by Mohamed Bayo in the eighth minute of stoppage time.

The match was heading for extra time when Bayo headed in a cross by Ibrahim Diakite to spark frenzied celebrations among the Guinea team and their large support.

It was a historic moment for the Guinea, who had never previously won an AFCON knockout tie – they were runners-up in 1976 in an era when the final four played a round-robin format to decide the winner of the trophy.

“It means a lot. We knew that this could be a historic occasion,” said Guinea coach Kaba Diawara, who was in tears at the final whistle.

Equatorial Guinea, who had midfielder Federico Bikoro sent off in the 55th minute, will wonder what might have been had captain Emilio Nsue not squandered a penalty midway through the second half.

Elsewhere, Atalanta’s Ademola Lookman scored both goals as Nigeria defeated long-time rivals Cameroon 2-0 to march into the quarter-finals.

Nigeria had an early Semi Ajayi goal disallowed after a VAR review before star man Victor Osimhen’s constant pressure on the Cameroonian defence led to Lookman finding the net in the 36th minute.

The Nigerian defence, which has been impenetrable at this Afcon, kept Cameroon at bay for the rest of the game before Lookman made sure of the victory in the 90th minute to set up a quarter-final meeting with Angola.

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