2019 Africa Cup of Nations

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AFCON wrap: Pote’s beauty helps Benin draw Ghana; Cameroon wins

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All 24 teams at the Africa Cup of Nations have a match in the books as of Tuesday, and we’ve got another tournament surprise.

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Having already seen Uganda upset the Democratic Republic of Congo and Madagascar draw Guinea, this one came when Ghana met Benin.

It was aided by a red card to Ghana, but the 88th ranked Les Écureuils (Squirrels) of Benin managed a result.

Cameroon 2-0 Guinea-Bissau

Scoreless at halftime, Cameroon saw Yaya Banana and Stephane Bahoken score three minutes apart to give the Indomitable Lions the Group F lead on Day One of group play.

Ghana 2-2 Benin

Mickael Pote scored first and last, giving Benin a valuable point against 10-man Ghana.

The Black Stars went behind in the second minute on Pote’s first, only to get Andre Ayew and Jordan Ayew goals on either side of halftime to build a lead of their own.

But John Boye took a 54th minute red card and Pote potted his second nine minutes later to give Benin an early Group F bonus.

How about this sweep behind the leg?

AFCON wrap: Diaby’s sensational rip highlights trio of matches

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The Africa Cup of Nations said hello to six more competitors on Monday, with a thrilling goal amongst the eight tallied across the competitions in Egypt.

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Mali 4-1 Mauritania

Two different men named Adama Traore — neither of them the Wolves winger — joined Moussa Marega on the score sheet but it’s difficult to describe the class and small margins that defined the tournament’s goal of the day.

Sporting Lisbon’s Abdoulay Diaby somehow got this shot off through two defenders and into the upper reaches of the goal to open the scoring in the three-goal win for Mali, which is having some summer when you take into account the U-20 World Cup.

Ivory Coast 1-0 South Africa

There were only 13 total attempts in the game, and Aston Villa’s Jonathan Kodija scored the lone goal of a tournament opening win for Les Elephants.

Tunisia 1-1 Angola

A draw was probably fair, as Youssef Msakni’s first half penalty was met by Djalma Campos’ late goal to split the spoils in Group E.

FOLLOW LIVE: Africa Cup of Nations – Ivory Coast, Tunisia in action

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The Africa Cup of Nations group stage trundles on, as a couple of big boys arrive on Monday.

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Both the Ivory Coast and Tunisia begin their 2019 campaign in Egypt, as the Ivorians face South Africa are favorites to advance in Group D but Morocco will push them all the way despite their narrow 1-0 against Namibia on Sunday.

Crystal Palace star Wilfried Zaha is the main attacking threat for Ivory Coast, while Tottenham’s Serge Aurier is a mainstay in defense for the winners of the 2015 AFCON.

In Group E, Tunisia face Angola and they’re heavily favored to win with former Sunderland attacker Wahbi Khazri their main man. Elsewhere in Group E Mali face Mauritania with new Southampton winger Moussa Djenepo one of the main men for Mali.

Below is the full schedule for the AFCON action on Monday, while you can follow all of the action live by clicking on the link above.

2019 Africa Cup of Nations schedule – Monday, June 24

Group D
Ivory Coast v. South Africa – 10:30 a.m. ET

Group E
Tunisia v. Angola – 1 p.m. ET
Mali v. Mauritania – 4 p.m. ET

AFCON: Senegal start with win despite missing Mane

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Senegal reinforced its status as one of the favorites to win the Africa Cup of Nations by starting its campaign in Egypt with a 2-0 win over Tanzania on Sunday.

Senegal didn’t miss forward Sadio Mane, who was suspended for the game, as it opened with a solid display in Cairo.

Playing just his second competitive game for his country, Krepin Diatta powered in a shot from outside the penalty area to make it 2-0 midway through the second half. Senegal would have won the Group C game by much more if it had been just a little sharper in front of goal.

Tanzania goalkeeper Aishi Manula also helped keep the score down.

Keita Balde got the first goal in the 28th minute after finishing off an intricate attack – which swept from one side of the field to the other – by driving his shot into the bottom corner.

Mane missed the game with a suspension for two yellow cards he received in qualifying.

Senegal, host Egypt and Nigeria are seen as the strongest contenders for the title, although Senegal has played more African Cups (15) than any other team without winning the championship.

Senegal is the No. 1 team in Africa while Tanzania is the second-lowest ranked team at the tournament. It’s making just its second appearance at the African Cup and first since 1981.

Also in Group C, Riyad Mahrez scored the second goal as Algeria began its campaign with a 2-0 win over Kenya, which qualified for the first time since 2004.

Baghdad Bounedjah slotted a penalty for Algeria after Aissa Mandi cut into the area from the right flank and was sliced down. Mahrez added the second before halftime. His first-time shot from a cross was heading for the bottom right corner of the Kenyan net, deflected off a defender, and ended up in the bottom left.

Content with 2-0, Algeria shut the game down in the second half and had little trouble in holding off the Kenyans.

But meetings with minnows have provided early headaches for some of the other top teams in the first three days of action in Egypt. The home team struggled to break down Zimbabwe, Uganda surprised Congo 2-0 and Nigeria needed a late goal to finally beat tournament debutant Burundi, the lowest-ranked team to make it to Egypt. Guinea was held 2-2 by Madagascar, another team making its first appearance.

The trend continued in Sunday’s first game. Morocco got lucky and escaped with a 1-0 victory over Namibia in Group D when Itamunua Keimune scored an own goal in the 89th minute.

“The first game is always difficult,” Morocco’s M’barak Boussoufa said. “We are happy to win, even by a slim margin.”

Striker Keimune was at the wrong end of the field and trying to clear a free kick from Hakim Ziyech. Apparently uncertain whether to kick or head the ball, all he did was divert it into his own net with a minute to go. Bitterly disappointed, Namibia’s players slumped to the ground at the final whistle and were consoled by members of their coaching staff.

“We deserved a draw,” Namibia coach Ricardo Manetti said.

The Morocco-Namibia group is arguably the toughest at the African Cup, with 2015 champion Ivory Coast and South Africa the other two teams. They meet on Monday.

Morocco plays Ivory Coast in its next game, when Morocco coach Herve Renard comes up against the country he coached to the title in 2015.

“We have to get ready for that,” Renard said.

Morocco skirts past Namibia on late own-goal

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Morocco started its Africa Cup of Nations journey noticeably flat, but still managed to snatch all three points late as a heartbreaking Itamunua Keimuine own-goal in the 89th minute saw Morocco top Namibia 1-0.

Namibia was in a defensive shell the entire match, and they succeeded in frustrating Hakim Ziyech and company. Morocco held 67% of possession and ripped off 17 shots, but could only put five of them on target in the blistering Egypt heat. Morocco head coach Herve Renard made the questionable decision not to start Sofiane Boufal, but brought him on for the final half-hour in the hope of electrifying the favorites.

It had little effect and Namibia remained defensively solid, until conceding in the final ticks off the clock. A Ziyech free-kick from a great distance out swung in, and having evaded every attacker and defender, it fell to the last Namibian defender on the line Itamunua Keimuine who accidentally headed it into his own net.

The final result was probably deserved, as Monaco had far more attacking intent, out-passing Namibia 491 to 182 and holding them without a shot on target. Still, Renard will hope the chances come in a more consistent fashion next time out as Morocco has tough games against South Africa and Ivory Coast remaining in Group D play.