Two of the Africa Cup of Nations favorites, Ivory Coast and Cameroon, had to rescue a point against underdogs Guinea and Mali respectively on an evening’s football where the two superior teams failed to find top gear.
The 10 men of Ivory Coast saved a point in their 1-1 draw with a battling Guinea team after Seydou Doumbia’s equalizer. Mohamed Yattara had given Guinea what some might have considered a deserved lead in an otherwise quiet first-half, before Doumbia came off the bench – replacing Hertha Berlin’s Salomon Kalou – to level the scores in the final 20 minutes.
While Guinea might feel they missed a chance to upset their rivals, the point will give them confidence considering they defied the odds by making the tournament in the first place. Having been forced to play all of their home qualifiers at a neutral venue due to the damage done by the Ebola virus, Guinea sent their fans into raptures when Yattara seized on a poor defensive clearance to give the underdogs the lead. Gladbach’s Ibrahima Traore impressed for Guinea, even seeing an effort clip the bar.
Ivory Coast had attacker Gervinho sent off for striking an opponent shortly before the hour mark, but then Doumbia showed good composure after being set up superbly by Wilfred Bony.
Mali denied victory
In the late game, Mali and Cameroon also shared the spoils after another 1-1 draw. Mali started well – Bakary Sako’s shot was tipped away by Fabrice Ondoa after only 10 minutes. Cameroon suffered an early setback when midfielder Eyong Enoh had to be replaced due to injury.
The first half remained a fairly quiet affair, but Mali looked the more likely to score. Eventually they did and it came, as expected, from a set piece. A free kick from Seydou Keita was lashed home at the back post by Mustapha Yatabare after a flick on in the area.
But with six minutes left and Cameroon facing a surprise opening game defeat, Ambroise Oyongo made a darting run into the box where he controlled a long ball and finished neatly. The result was not only flattering for Volker Finke’s men, but it also leaves Group D much like it did before a ball had been kicked.
Source : Deutsche Welle