The Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) is quietly one of the world’s most exciting, entertaining and underrated competitions in all of world soccer, and if you’ve not been paying attention to this year’s gem of a tournament, you’re truly missing out. (Monday’s AFCON action vehemently agrees, too.)
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Ivory Coast 1-1 Guinea
While upsets — and near-upsets thwarted by late comebacks — were the story of the day on Monday, Tuesday offered much of the same as Guinea, who have never in their history reached an AFCON semifinal, pushed 1992 winners and two-time runners-up Ivory Coast dangerously close to a nightmare start to their 2015 campaign.
Guinea went a goal ahead after 36 minutes when Lyon forward Mohamed Yattara scored a powerful half-volley from seven yards. Ivory Coast and Roma midfielder Gervinho was shown a straight red card for a half-punch-half-slap to the face of Naby Keita in the 58th minute.
Despite the man disadvantage for the game’s final half-hour, Ivory Coast finished the game with slim advantages in the possession (53 percent) and shots (10-7, 3-2 on target) departments, and got the equalizer they so desperately needed in the 72nd minute. CSKA Moscow forward Seydou Doumbia and Manchester City’s Wilfried Bony worked a completed a tidy move that put the forward one-one-one with the goalkeeper 12 yards from goal. Doumbia finished neatly and Les Elephants were back on level terms after 72 minutes.
Mali 1-1 Cameroon
Much like their fellow Group D favorites had done hours earlier, Cameroon found themselves a goal down with minutes to be played in regular time. Sambou Yatabare put Mali scored from a near-impossible angle in the 71st minute to give Mali, third-place finishers in the 2012 and 2013 AFCONs, the inside track to three points in the group stage opener. Yatabare found himself unmarked following a free kick flicked on to the back post, where the Guingamp (France) midfielder drove the ball into the ground and between the legs of goalkeeper Fabrice Ondoa.
Cameroon equalized, though, with six minutes of regular time to be played. New York Red Bulls (soon to be Montreal Impact?) defender Ambroise Oyongo made a diagonal run into Mali penalty area where Raoul Loe found Oyongo eight yards from goal. Oyongo’s three touches went, in quick succession while bearing down on goal, 1) right foot, 2) left thigh, 3) inside of left foot, and back of net.
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As things currently stand, given a pair of 1-1 results on Tuesday, no team in Group D holds any advantage over anyone else. Group D action resumes on Saturday as Ivory Coast and Mali face one another (11 am ET), followed by Cameroon vs. Mali (2 pm ET).
Wednesday’s AFCON schedule
Equatorial Guinea vs. Burkino Faso (11 am ET)
Gabon vs. Congo (2 pm ET)