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Tuesday , November 19 2019

Ghana win at last to top Group F at Afcon

Kenya’s Masika Ayb Timbe (left), duels for the ball with Senegal’s Saliou Ciss during the African Cup of Nations Group D soccer match between Kenya and Senegal at 30 June Stadium in Cairo, Egypt on July 1. (AP)

Cameroon edged into second place after draw with Benin who qualify

SUEZ, Egypt, July 2, (RTRS): Jordan Ayew and Thomas Partey delivered Ghana into the knockout stages of the Africa Cup of Nations with second half goals as they beat Guinea Bissau in their last group game at the Suez Stadium on Tuesday.

The 2-0 victory catapulted Ghana to top place in Group F, by the narrowest of margins ahead of Cameroon on the number of goal scored, avoiding a weekend clash with arch rivals Nigeria.

Ayew, who also struck the woodwork twice, showed both strength and guile as he broke down the left flank, shrugged off two defenders and then curled the ball into the far corner some 30 seconds into the second half.

Partey added the second in the 72nd minute as he slid home a cross from left back Baba Rahman.

Holders Cameroon played out their second successive 0-0 draw at the Africa Cup of Nations when they were held by Benin, meaning they finished second in their group and must face neighbours Nigeria in the round of 16.

The result, in another disappointing Group F match, also meant that Benin qualified for the knockout stages as they made it past the group stage of the competition for the first time at the fourth attempt.

Cameroon finished with five points but were edged into second place on goals scored by Ghana who beat Guinea-Bissau 2-0. Benin, who drew all of their matches, finished with three points and their goal difference of zero was enough to ensure they will finish as one of the four best third-placed teams.

Cameroon’s Yaya Banana was closest to breaking the deadlock when he headed against the crossbar in the 82nd minute but, overall, it was another uninspired performance from the Indomitable Lions.

Senegal’s top player Sadio Mane had a penalty saved but later scored his first two goals at this year’s Africa Cup of Nations as they beat Kenya 3-0 to reach the last 16.

Mane’s spot kick was stopped by Patrick Matasi in the first half and it looked to be a costly miss as Senegal struggled to break down a resilient Kenyan side who could still qualify.

But it all changed after Ismaila Sarr broke the deadlock in the 63rd minute and Mane added two more, the second of his brace also from a penalty which this time he buried confidently even though his coach had been reluctant for him to take it.

Senegal, who finished second in Group C with six points behind Algeria on nine, will face Uganda in the knockout round on Friday, while Kenya, who have three points, must wait to see if they progress as one of the best third-placed teams.

Senegal coach Aliou Cisse had been reluctant to allow Mane to take the second penalty but said it was the correct decision.

“He was right, it’s important that he takes that responsibility, and it’s important that he gets that confidence,” Cisse told reporters.

There was plenty of drama in the first half and Senegal claimed they should have been awarded a penalty when Victor Wanyama appeared to handle following a corner but Egyptian referee Ghead Grisha emphatically waved play on.

Shortly afterwards, Kenya’s Musa Mohammed clumsily tripped Saliou Ciss and this time there was no let-off for the Harambee Stars as the official pointed to the spot.

However, Matasi, who plays his club football in Ethiopia, dived to his right to save Liverpool forward Mane’s spot kick.

Matasi also saved a shot from Henri Saivet just before the penalty and tipped Sarr’s effort onto the bar on the stroke of halftime to keep Kenya’s goal intact.

But the keeper was at fault when the defence was finally breached in the 63rd minute as he failed to intercept a cross and Sarr hooked the ball in. After that it was easy for Senegal.

Nine minutes later, they cleared a corner and broke down field, Mane was released and drilled the ball past Matasi.

By now Kenya looked ragged and Philemon Otieno showed their desperation as he tripped Sarr, conceded a penalty and was sent off. Mane stepped up and made no mistake second time around.

“We were not so far, but not so close. If you commit a mistake, you are punished immediately when you play Senegal,” said Kenya coach Sebastien Migne.

“For one hour, we created some problems, some difficulties at least. Now, we need to wait and we expect and hope for some help. We will learn… we have learned a lot, I think.” Algeria’s Adam Ounas scored twice and Islam Slimani also netted in a 3-0 win over Tanzania as they finished top of Group C after their second-string side proved far too strong for their opponents.

The goals all came in the last 10 minutes of the first half as the pace of the Algerians and the accuracy of their passes cut open the Tanzanian defence almost at will.

The victory meant Algeria matched hosts Egypt and Morocco with a full haul of nine points in the group stage, while Tanzania finished bottom as they returned to the tournament for the first time since 1980.

Algeria will face a third-placed finisher in the last 16.

Algeria made nine changes, having already secured qualification after a morale-boosting win over Senegal in their previous match, using the opportunity to rest regulars before the start of the knockout stages at the weekend.

But even with a fresh look, Algeria were far more polished than Tanzania and went almost immediately on the attack with teenager Hichem Boudaoui missing a good opportunity inside the opening two minutes.

There were several half chances that followed before Slimani ran onto a long ball between two defenders and finished with aplomb for the 35th minute opener.

The striker then played a clever one-two to set up Ounas for the second goal four minutes later.

On the stroke of halftime, Slimani was again the provider with a long pass that allowed Ounas to outsprint the defence, round the goalkeeper and finish from a tight angle.

Algeria, who brought Riyad Mahrez on for the last 20 minutes, lacked the same urgency in the second half but were still dominant.

Tanzania’s English-based striker Adi Yussuf might have grabbed a consolation goal in the last minute but headed narrowly over the bar.

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