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Wednesday , June 29 2022

Ivory Coast dump Algeria out of African Cup

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Egypt into last 16 as Nigeria stay unbeaten

DOUALA, Cameroon, Jan 20, (AP): Defending champions Algeria were dumped out of the African Cup of Nations in the group stage on Thursday with a 4-1 loss to an Ivory Coast team that was rampant at times. It meant Algeria, which was again viewed as one of the title contenders, exited without a win after two shock results earlier in the tournament left it bottom of Group E and needing to beat Ivory Coast to progress. It didn’t come close to doing that as Ivory Coast surged into a 3-0 lead through goals by Franck Kessié and Ibrahim Sangaré in the first half and Nicolas Pépé in the 54th minute. Riyad Mahrez missed a penalty for Algeria after 60 minutes but his team did pull one back through Sofiane Bendebka’s header.

Egypt’s Omar Kamal (left), vies for the ball with Sudan’s Walieldin Khedr during the African Cup of Nations 2022 group D soccer match between Egypt and Sudan at the Ahmadou Ahidjo stadium in Yaounde, Cameroon. (AP)

However, that did nothing to soften the blow of a disastrous tournament for the North Africans and Sébastien Haller headed in the fourth for Ivory Coast in the third minute of injury time. Algeria began their defense with a surprise 0-0 draw with Sierra Leone and then were at the wrong end of one of the biggest upsets in African Cup history when they lost 1-0 to Equatorial Guinea. Algeria followed another former champions, Ghana, in being eliminated in the group stage in Cameroon. Ivory Coast finished top of Group E and Equatorial Guinea clinched second place and the other automatic spot in the round of 16 by beating 10-man Sierra Leone 1-0 in the other group game.

There were other repercussions from that Sierra Leone loss, not least that the tiny island nation of Comoros qualified for the knockout stage in their first appearance at the African Cup as one of the four best third-place teams. Egypt qualified for the knockout stage at the African Cup of Nations and put a stop for now to the run of surprise results that has shaken the tournament over the last few days. Egypt saw off Sudan 1-0 in their final Group D game in Yaounde, confirming their place in the round of 16 after qualifying second in the group behind Nigeria. Defender Mohamed Abdelmonem headed home a corner on 35 minutes after a period of sustained pressure from Egypt. Nigeria won 2-0 against Guinea- Bissau in the other group game having already qualified for the last 16 as group winners. Nigeria had second-half goals by Umar Sadiq and William Troost-Ekong and is the only team to come through the group stage with three wins.

The goals delighted interim coach Augustine Eguavoen, who jumped off the bench and threw his arms in the air. Eguavoen is due to give up the coaching duties after the African Cup but there might just be calls for the former African Cup-winning captain to stay if Nigeria keep winning with him as coach. Egypt would no doubt have had nerves jangling after seeing the fate of some of their fellow former champions in Cameroon. Defending champions Algeria were beaten 1-0 by Equatorial Guinea on Sunday in a result that seemed certain to be the shock of the tournament until four-time winner Ghana’s jaw-dropping elimination at the hands of tournament debutant and tiny island nation Comoros on Tuesday. Egypt had underwhelmed in their start in Cameroon, losing to Nigeria and then only scraping past Guinea- Bissau in their second group game, thanks to Mohamed Salah’s goal and a brilliant late equalizer by Guinea- Bissau being contentiously disallowed. Egypt still aren’t in top gear but there were better signs against Sudan. Mostafa Mohamed and Abdallah Said were both denied by Sudan goalkeeper Mohamed Mustafa in the first half.

Salah showed some of his best skill this tournament as he weaved past defenders and let off a low shot that was saved by Ali Abu Eshrein, who came on in place of Mustafa. Salah also set up Amr el-Solia in front of goal. El-Solia blazed his shot over. The game is something of a derby because the two countries are neighbors. But they are not close on recent achievements. Egypt area record seven- time African Cup winners, while Sudan won the title in 1970 but have gone past the group stage just once in the 52 years since then. There was a scare for Egypt – and Liverpool – when Salah went down clutching his leg after Sudan defender Mazin Mohamedein crunched into him with his studs raised in a tackle. Egypt’s captain got up and finished the game, though. The two results on Wednesday also meant Cape Verde and Malawi qualified as the first two of four best thirdplace teams. It’s the first time Malawi have reached the knockouts at the African Cup.

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