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Equatorial Guinea chase upset win in last Round of 16 clash

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Round of 16 at the total energies, 2021 Africa Cup of Nations AFCON will come to the end on the evening of Wednesday 26 January 2022 with the meeting of Mali and Equatorial Guinea at the Limbe Stadium.

The tournament came with a number of surprises, among Equatorial Guinea earning their spot in the knockout rounds by finishing second in Group E behind Ivory Coast. They managed to recover from an opening loss to the Elephants by sensationally defeating reigning champions Algeria, followed by a clutch 1-0 win over Sierra Leone last week on Thursday. Nzalang Nacional is very much an outsider for this clash, but coach Juan Micha Obiang is hopeful his side maintain the underdog attitude which has served them so well thus far at the Afcon.

Equatorial Guinea sings their National anthem during the 2021 AFCON.

Qualifying for the second round of the tournament, one gets excited, this is according to the Equatorial Guinea coach. He further said that they had a great match bearing in mind that the game was not going to be any easy against Sierra Leone but was expected to be difficult, but the team had prepared accordingly to win the match. Guinea head coach noted that he knows pretty well that they are not favourites in this 2021 AFCON competition and is the reason why they have to work every day to achieve good performances and move to the next level.

Mali quietly proved one of the most impressive teams in the tournament at the Group Stage, topping a tricky pool ahead of impressive debutants the Gambia, who also ended unbeaten and with seven points, Tunisia and Mauritania. With their key man being Ibrahima Kone, who scored in the 1-0 win over Tunisia, 1-1 draw with the Gambia and 2-0 win over Mauritania and will be eager to keep up his scoring streak come Wednesday night.

Coach Mohamed Magassouba, meanwhile, seems not to be taking anything for granted against Equatorial Guinea, based on the high standard of this competition is very high. They had a very good start against Tunisia, the big engine of African football, then hung by the Gambia which is also very catchy, tenacious and fast.

  Equatorial Guinea player celebrates after scoring in 2021 AFCON

They managed to finish ahead of Mauritania, who proved to be a very good team as well even though they looked forward to finishing on a very good note naturally. For Guinea, this competition, have always managed all the matches with the same state of mind and keeping in mind that all the games are equal.

A round of 16 of the 2021 African cup of Nations AFCON come to the end on Wednesday, you would find out that all nations are fighting and everyone is favourite. In head-to-head stats, Mali and Equatorial Guinea met in three previous matches, dating back to their first clash in 2009. The Eagles boast a 100 per cent record, with a 3-0 win in a friendly in 2009, followed by successive 1-0 wins in March 2016 in qualifying for the following year’s Africa Cup of Nations tournament. The West Africans were the only side to win all three group games in Cameroon but were largely subdued against a Tunisia side hit by Covid-19.

Nigeria forward Umar Sadiq fired across goal and wide in injury time after Moses Simon had earlier had an effort blocked by Bechir Ben Said. Tunisia, Nations Cup winners in 2004, will face Burkina Faso in the last eight on Saturday, 29 January. Three-time African champions Nigeria were fancied to go deep in the competition after impressing under interim coach Augustine Eguavoen against Egypt, Sudan and Guinea-Bissau.

Tunisia had meanwhile lost twice in the group stage including to debutants the Gambia and was without coach Mondher Kebaier and a host of players after positive tests for coronavirus. Influential captain Wahbi Khazri was only fit enough to take his place among the substitutes but the North Africans had the best chance in the first half in Garoua, as defender Montassar Talbi had an effort cleared off the line.

Nigeria offered little in reply as Wilfred Ndidi sent a bicycle kick wide and Joe Aribo had a shot blocked behind. Msakni caught out Okoye, who has signed for Watford but is on loan at Sparta Rotterdam, with a low effort from almost 30 yards to break the deadlock soon after the restart. Iwobi was sent on as a 59th-minute substitute but was dismissed just seven minutes later after catching Msakni on the top of the ankle with his studs even though the Everton midfielder had appeared incredulous when initially shown yellow.

Tunisia midfielder Naim Sliti had a curling effort saved while Nigeria struggled to create chances as the Carthage Eagles sat back and soaked up the pressure to complete victory. Eguavoen is set to be replaced by Jose Peseiro as Super Eagles coach and the Portuguese’s first task will be to navigate a two-legged World Cup.

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