Another round of games has taken place in the 2017 edition of AFCON, with a few surprises and a few favorites getting ready for the quarterfinals. West Ham players Cheikhou Kouyate and Andre Ayew, with Senegal and Ghana, are both preparing for the quarterfinals, meaning that they will be missing a few more days with national team duty. However, a good showing at international tournaments is something for the players to build on and the team has been looking good the past two weeks, so surely they’ll fit right back into the squad.
Group A remains the most surprising of the groups, with hosts Gabon needing help to move on to at least the quarterfinals while surprise team Burkina Faso is level with them on two points and Cameroon are still not assured of a place in the next round with only four points after two games. Guinea-Bissau, despite only having one point, is still not out of contention. Burkina Faso drew with hosts Gabon in the first game, with first half substitute Prepuce Nakoulma, on for an injured Jonathan Pitroipa, put Burkina Faso ahead after only 23 minutes only to see Gabon’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang level from the spot after he drew a penalty after he was brought down by Burkina Faso’s keeper Kouakou Herve Koffi in the 37th minute. Koffi saved a number of late chances by Gabon to keep the score level and Burkina Faso level on points. In the second game Cameroon was able to come back from a goal down against Guinea-Bissau to win two goals to one. Cameroon’s Michael Ngadeu-Ngadjui scored in the 78th minute to put them ahead for good after Sebastien Siani had drawn Cameroon level in the 61st minute. Piqueti Brito Silva, who plays for SC Braga B in Portugal’s 2nd division, LigaPro, had put Guinea-Bissau ahead in the thirteenth minute.
Group B saw favorites and BTH pick Algeria fall to neighbors and rivals Tunisia and Kouyate’s Senegal beat minnows Zimbabwe to go through to the next round. Algeria was able to save their blushes in the end of the match injury time, but were unable to overcome a two goal deficit after Tunisia had scored from the spot in the 66th minute, courtesy of Naim Sliti, and had a cross directed into Algeria’s net from an own goal from Aissa Mandi. Algeria’s only goal was scored by Sofiane Hanni, leaving the Desert Foxes with a single point, level with Zimbabwe. Tunisia sit on three points, and Senegal reached the quarterfinals with six points after Liverpool’s Sadio Mane scored after only nine minutes and Henri Saivet scored from a free-kick in the thirteenth minute.
Group C featured perhaps the match of the round when Cote d’Ivoire drew 2 all with DR Congo. DR Congo had taken the lead twice, only to see Les Elephants draw level each time. Neeskens Kebano had given DR Congo the lead in the ninth minute and Junior Kabananga put them ahead again in the 28th minute. Manchester City’s Wilfried Bony, who is on loan at Stoke, drew Cote d’Ivoire level in the 26th minute and Serey Die drew them level again in the 67th minute. The result left DR Congo on top of the group with four points, and after Morocco got a nice win, 3 to 1 over Togo, they sit in second place in the group with three points and Cote d’Ivoire with two points trail them and Togo is still in the hunt for a quarterfinal spot on one point. Togo had drawn first blood in their match with Morocco, with Mathieu Dossevi putting Togo ahead after only five minutes. Morocco scored three unanswered goals from Aziz Bouhaddouz in the 14th minute, Wolverhampton’s Romain Saiss in the 21st minute, and Youssef En-Nesyri in the 72nd minute to seal the victory for Morocco who now play Cote d’Ivoire Tuesday to see who goes through to the quarterfinals.
Group D featured Ghana beating Mali after a 21st minute goal from former Sunderland striker Asamoah Gyan, booking their quarterfinal spot and Egypt winning after an 89th minute goal from Adballah El Said. Ghana is now alone on top of the group with six points and Egypt now in second place with four points. Mali face a very uphill battle to qualify for the quarterfinals with one point and a match against Uganda, who were eliminated from going any further after losing late to Egypt. Former Chelsea player, and current Roma star Mohammed Salah provided a nice assist on Egypt’s winning goal, playing El Said through to beat the keeper at the near post.
Ghana celebrate Asamoah Gyan's goal how Ghana know best with a little dance.— Squawka News (@SquawkaNews) January 21, 2017
10/10 for choreography. pic.twitter.com/4YC5WrQomJ
So Senegal and Ghana are on to the next round, but there is plenty to play for in the final round of the group stages that start on Sunday. If the results keep going the way of the West Ham players, one of them might come home with an international trophy.