Equitorial Guinea produced one of the biggest shocks ever seen in the African Nations Cup last night with a dramatic 2-1 win over Senegal.
Co-hosts of the tournament, Equitorial Guinea, playing in their first ever ACON, sent their fans into raptures as David Alvarez’s long range effort deep into injury time sealed an unlikely win.
As for Senegal, fancied by many as potential champions, they now face the prosepect of an eary return home following their second defeat in two games.
The scoring started just after the hour, when Randy was left with a relatively easy finish after Alvarez, picking the ball up on the right, played in a superb cross that left goalkeeper Bouna Coundoul helpless.
Senegal, knowing that defeat would result in elimination, brought on Captain Mamadou Niang and Moussa Sow. However, the Lions of Teranga continued to be frustrated by the hosts, with tireless working off the ball that stifled Senegal’s creativity and restricted the amount of goal scoring chances.
Senegal did find a breakthrough with just a minute left on the clock. After a free-kick had been spilt by goalkeeper Danilo following Niang’s header, the ball broke to Lille’s Sow, and, after having his initail effort blocked, adjusted his body superbly to crash the ball into the net and give his team hope.
Desperation was visible for all to see from the Senegal players as Sow grabbed the ball from the net and ran it back to the halfway line for a quick kick-off. Sow and company still believed they could grab a sensational late winner.
However, it would be Alvarez and Equitorial Guinea that would grab the late winner and send the majority of the 40,000 crowd into delirium. In the 94th minute, Alvarez picked the ball up 25 yards out, and produced an effort that he and many of the fans would of been dreaming about prior to the game.
As the goalscorer ran to the touchline to celebrate the goal with the obligatory dance, Senegal’s players crashed to their knees as the realisation of their failure hit home. Once again, Senegal had failed in Africa’s premier international tournament. Much had been expected from this Senegal team, as many felt they boasted the strongest attack, but in the end, expectations were too high for the West Africaners.
As for Equitorial Guinea, this is without doubt the greatest night in their footballing history. Reaching the knockout stages in their first ever ACON is a fantastic achievement, especially considering that coach Gilson Paulo met his team for the first time only three weeks ago.
Senegal will now only have pride to play for in the final group game against Libya. As for Equitorial Guinea, pride has already been achieved, and from now on, will only become stronger.