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AFCON Update: Ayew brothers send Ghana into semifinals

Burkina Faso, Cameroon, and Egypt join the Black Stars in the final four.

Portugal v Ghana: Group G - 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images

The quarterfinals of AFCON featured two West Ham players, and while Cheikhou Kouyate’s Senegal were denied in a penalty shoot-out loss to Cameroon, Andrew Ayew scored the winning goal from the spot to send Ghana past DR Congo. Burkina Faso continued their magical run by beating Tunisia 2-0, and Egypt got past Morocco after a very late goal from Mahmoud Abdel-Moneim.

In the first quarterfinals Saturday, Burkina Faso sent Tunisia home after two late goals, one from Aristide Bance in the 81st minute and the other from Prejuce Nakoulma in the 84th minute after Tunisia tried desperately to draw level. The result means that Burkina Faso has won all three of their quarterfinal appearances in AFCON, and has advanced to the semi-finals for the first time since losing in the finals in 2013. Tunisia, on the other hand, suffered their fifth straight defeat in the quarterfinals of AFCON.

The other quarterfinal on Saturday featured two AFCON mainstays in Senegal and Cameroon. Unfortunately for Senegal, the match resembled the 2002 AFCON final where Cameroon also beat Senegal in penalty kicks after a scoreless 120 minutes. The match will be most remembered for Liverpool’s Sadio Mane missing his spot kick after all of the previous kicks had gone in for a 4-4 tie. Porto’s Vincent Aboubakar, who is on loan at Besiktas in Turkey, then scored the winning penalty kick to send Cameroon into the semi-finals.

Sunday’s quarterfinals featured a clash between two teams that had been in good form in the tournament, Ghana and DR Congo. West Ham’s Andre Ayew wore the captain’s armband for this game, as team captain, and former Sunderland striker, Asaomoah Gyan was injured in the previous game for Ghana. Fortunately for Ghana, Aston Villa’s Jordan Ayew produced a wonderful goal to open the scoring in the 63rd minute. DR Congo were not about to go down without a fight, as Paul-Jose Mpoku’s amazing goal drew the teams level in the 68th minute. However, Newcastle United’s Christian Atsu was fouled in the box, and Andre Ayew scored what would be the winning goal from the penalty spot in the 78th minute.

The final quarterfinal game saw Egypt, AFCON’s most successful team of all time, beat Morocco to go to the semi-finals in their first AFCON appearance since winning the tournament in 2010. They had failed to qualify for three straight AFCONs in 2012, 2013, and 2015, but qualified for AFCON 2017 by beating Nigeria in the group stage. Second-half substitute Mahmoud “Kahraba” Abdel-Moneim scored in the 87th minute to send Morocco out of the tournament. Morocco had plenty of chances, with Mbark Boussoufa and Wolverhampton’s Romain Saiss both hitting the crossbar, but were denied a goal despite leading Egypt in shots 16 to 6 and corners four to three.

So the semi-finals are all set, with Egypt taking on upstart Burkina Faso on Wednesday and Cameroon taking on Ghana on Thursday. The winners of those matches will meet on Sunday February 5th for the championship while the losers of those matches will meet on Saturday February 4th for the third place game.