Seven goals, a penalty, two red cards, and a plethora of football drama summed up yesterday’s Africa Cup of Nations 2023, as matchday one action resumed in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire.
Algeria would only blame themselves for securing just a point in their 1-1 draw against Angola, after failing to capitalize on numerous opportunities to seal the game, before eventually conceding a penalty in the second half.
Baghdad Bags More AFCON Goals
Baghdad Bounedjah showcased his best for the Desert Foxes, finding the back of the net in the 18th minute with a sensational outfoot volley struck on his first touch, leaving no chance for Neblu to save it.
Interestingly enough, the Al Sadd forward scored both the opening goal against Kenya and the closing goal against Senegal, propelling Algeria to victory in AFCON 2019.
Bounedjah nearly sealed the game with a spectacular bicycle kick that would have been a contender for the goal of the tournament, only for VAR to rule it offside. This led the striker to obstinately protest the fine margin decision.
The Algerian forward skillfully controlled the in-swinging cross in the penalty box, flanked by two Angolan defenders, proving exactly why Coach Djamel Belmadi has had faith in the 32-year-old forward over the years in charge of the Desert Foxes.
Algeria menaced on the flanks with Riyad Mahrez and Youcef Atal on one end, and Belaili and Nouri on another, pressing Angola and weaving pinpoint passes around the defensive line.
Former AFCON hosts Cameroon considered themselves fortunate after narrowly escaping defeat, thanks to Frank Magri’s second-half equalizer.
Cameroon faced the absence of their star goalkeeper, Andre Onana, as his private flight experienced delays due to unfavorable flying conditions. Onana postponed his departure for the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) to participate in Manchester United’s 2-2 draw against Tottenham in the English Premier League over the weekend.
The Gambia, also without the influential Serhou Guirassy, still managed to dominate play earlier in the game, after Mohamed Bayo put his side ahead in the 10th minute.
Immediately after, Cameroon went on the offence with André-Frank Zambo Anguissa’s header flying only inches wide of Ibrahim Koné’s goal.
The match changed drastically when Gambia were reduced to 10 men after François Kamano was sent off on the stroke of halftime for a reckless challenge.
Previews and Fixtures
Despite the evident numerical advantage, Cameroon couldn’t exploit Gambia’s gap, securing an important draw before facing Guinea on Friday, January 19.
Both teams will have to figure out their lineups without the two suspended players, as the red cards on either side in the previous encounter cancel each other out.
Cameroon gears up to face AFCON 2021 champions Senegal, who breezed past Gambia with a 3-0 victory to grab a clean sheet and maximum points ahead of facing the Indomitable Lions.
Pape Gueye scored Senegal’s opener, while Lamine Kamara’s brace against Gambia currently places him as the tournament’s top scorer, with four draws registered out of seven matchday one games played so far.
Today’s fixtures (in East African Time):
Burkina Faso vs Mauritius – 5:00 pm
Tunisia vs Namibia – 8:00 pm
Mali vs South Africa – 11:00 pm
You can catch all the action on Kenyan state broadcaster KBC, as well as DSTV’s SuperSport.