Sierra Leone holds Ivory Coast in AFCON
Substitute Alhaji Kamara scored a 93rd minute equalizer as Sierra Leone holds two-time champions Ivory Coast to a 2-2 draw in their AFCON second Group E match at the Africa Cup of Nations in Douala on Sunday.
Goalkeeper Badri Ali Sangare’s error gifted the Leone Stars a late point. The keeper had gone to collect a routine headed back past but his landing on the ground was awkward. Steven Caulker picked up the ball and squared it back to Kamara, and despite the striker stumbling and heading for a fall, he still managed to bundle the ball home to grab the point.
There was more drama as keeper Sangare appeared to have injured himself and with Ivory Coast already having exhausted their substitutions, captain Serge Aurier dressed in the gloves and black jersey to step in for the final minutes as they survived a late onslaught from Sierra Leone.
Returning to the Africa Cup of Nations for the first time in 26 years, Sierra Leone had played to a 0-0 draw with reigning champions Algeria in their first match and the second draw leaves them dreaming of a place in the last 16.
Ivory Coast meanwhile had hoped to secure a last 16 place after match day two, but the point means they have to pick a positive result against Les Fennecs when they face the defending champions in their final match of the group on Thursday.
Arsenal striker Nicholas Pepe had struck Les Elephants back into the lead in the 65th minute, just 10 minutes after Sierra Leone’s Musa Noah Kamara had cancelled out Sebastian Haller’s first half goal.
Ivory Coast had a chance to break the deadlock after just 12 minutes when Wilfred Zaha was brought down inside the box by Sierra Leone skipper Umaru Bangura.
However, keeper Mohamed Kamara, who was named man of the match against Algeria, stepped up once again and made a brilliant stop to save Franck Kessie’s effort from 12 yards out.
However, Kessie’s blushes were wiped in the 25th minute when Haller scored the opener. The Ajax FC forward was picked out by a brilliant defense splitting pass from Zaha before volleying the ball into the bottom right corner.
Eight minutes later, they had a chance to make it 2-0 when Ghislain Kona was sent through on the left, but his low effort was well parried away by Kamara in the Sierra Leone goal.
Sierra Leone had a brilliant opportunity to draw level in the 39th minute when Buya Turray was sent through on goal but he couldn’t beat the keeper one on one, the latter making a good stretched save.
The Elephants went to the break with tails up and a goal. Coming back for the second 45, they wanted to seal the victory and ease their way into the round of 16.
Pepe had a chance in the 52nd minute with a well curled freekick but the ball spinned wide.
Against the run of play, Sierra Leone equalized in the 55th minute. Turray fed Kamara through, the 21 year old striker turning his marker inside out before unleashing a left footed belter that gave the keeper no chance.
But, the joy of the equalizer didn’t last long as Pepe gave Ivory Coast the lead once again with a well taken left foot curling effort from inside the box.
Sierra Leone were not about to go down without a fight and they pushed Ivory Coast whenever they could and were rewarded with the dramatic late winner.
-Tunisia bounce to first win-
Meanwhile, Tunisia put behind the drama of their opening match against Mali to earn a statement win in Group F to move to third in the log after a 4-0 thrashing of Mauritania. Wahbi Khazri scored twice with Hamza Mathlouthi and Seifeddine Jaziri adding the other.
They should have had five but lost a penalty for the second consecutive game, Youssef Msakni seeing his 90th minute penalty come against the upright.
Mathlouthi opened the scoring in the third minute when he took advantage of some schoolboy defending from Mauritania to send in a low drive into the net.
The North Africans doubled their tally to go 2-0 up after nine minutes, Khazri slapping the ball into the bottom right after a good lay up from Anis Slimane.
Some beautiful team play in the 64th minute saw Khazri complete his brace, before the skipper set up Jaziri for the fourth just two minutes later.
Debutants Gambia remain top of the group with four points after earlier on in the day scoring late to hold Mali to a 1-1 draw.
Ibrahima Kone scored a penalty in the 79th minute but Musa Barrow responded in similar fashion for the Gambians at the stroke of 90 minutes.