First Round of Group Stage of African Cup of Nations Round Up
Group A: Opening Game of the 2012 African Cup of Nations had the dream-like beginning for Equatorial Guinea as Javier Balboa scored in the 87th minute to give the co-hosts their first win in their first African Cup of Nations game against Libya. What was to follow was a more balanced and exciting game as Zambia shocked Senegal 2-1. Emmanuel Mayuka scored in the 12th and Rainford Kalaba in the 20th to put off the shell-shocked Teranga Lions as a 74th minuted Dame Ndoye goal was the only consolation that could be mustered in response to the impressive showing by the Copper Bullets
Group B: The Elephants of Cote D’Ivoire, with a more talented line-up, could only muster a 39th minute Didier Drogba header to claim victory over Sudan in a game that was considered lopsided as the Falcons of Jediane were unable to dictate the pace of the game at any point. Recent hosts Angola got a 2-1 victory over Burkina Faso by way of a 68th minute goal by Manucho. Mateus broke the deadlock after the half by cutting in from the right wing to give Angola the lead. The Stallions of Burkina Faso would not go so easily as Traore sent a free kick past keeper Carlos Fernandes to bring the game to level terms before the Manucho winner in the 57th minute.
Group C: Co-host Gabon delivered to the home crowd a dominating 2-0 win over Niger. Niger, while losing their first ever match in the African Cup of Nations was able to not let Gabon win the second half. The battle of North African rivals was one that wont be forgotten as the Carthage Eagles of Tunisia defeated Morocco 2-1. Morocco was able to dictate the terms of the game for a vast majority of the time but football is a game where the best team doesn’t always win. Khaled Korbi scored the opener for Tunisia in the 34th and and Youssef Msakni in the 75th kept off a strong Morocco side which was knocking on the door for an equalizer constantly after Houssine Kharja’s 86th minute goal. Best match so far in the group stage to be sure.
Group D: Bakaya Traore’s 30th minute goal was the decider as Mali defeated Guinea 1-0. Both sides showed that either team could’ve found themselves celebrating with a win but with the sluggish play in the second 45 minutes it was understandable that there wasn’t another goal. Ghana captain John Mensah had reason to celebrate and weep as he scored the game’s only goal in the 25th minute but found himself sent off in the 66th the Black Stars 1-0 win over Botswana. From the moment of the sending off the Zebras pushed their back line up in desperate attempt for the equalizer but none could be found.