Cape Verde

International roundup: No. 1 MLS pick posts first senior goal, Cape Verde upsets Portugal

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It was a busy couple days for friendlies outside of the draw between Switzerland and the USMNT, with some MLS players doing work in the mix.

No. 1 overall MLS pick Cyle Larin continued his remarkable rise by breaking his international duck (The 19-year-old had not represented his country at a single youth level until a breakout freshman season at UConn.

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All the details and more below:

Portugal 0-2 Cape Verde

You know how they always say to never underestimate Cape Verde on the road in a friendly? Neither do we, but the Blue Sharks built a two-goal lead over largely second-string Portugal on goals by Odair Fortes (Reims) and Gege (Maritimo) before a 60th minute red card to Andre Pinto made the visitors’ path to the upset much easier. This is a Cape Verde side that drew Luxembourg 0-0 in its only other non-African-based match since the start of 2014.

Netherlands 2-0 Spain

Guus Hiddink will feel relieved after his side found a pair of ways to beat David De Gea and Spain. Two goals in four first-half minutes set the Dutch up for victory, with Lazio’s Stefan de Vrij and Ajax’s Davy Klaassen netting for the home side.

Puerto Rico 0-3 Canada

Benito Floro’s Canada stayed perfect on this international break by following up a 1-0 win over Guatemala with a blanking of Puerto Rico in Bayamon. Tosaint Ricketts (Hapoel Haifa), Randy Edwini-Bonsu (Stuttgarter Kickers) and Larin (Orlando City) scored for the Canucks, with Larin picking up his first senior international goal. Next up for Canada: World Cup 2018 second stage qualifiers against Dominica. But first, here’s Larin:

Marcel de Jong (Sporting KC), Kyle Bekker (FC Dallas), Karl Ouimette (New York Red Bulls), Russell Teibert (Vancouver Whitecaps) and Maxim Tissot (Montreal Impact) also suited up for the Canadian side, with Bekker, Tissot and de Jong all starting.

Elsewhere
Liechtenstein 1-0 San Marino
Estonia 1-1 Iceland
Russia 0-0 Kazakhstan

Switzerland 1-1 United States
Sweden 3-1 Iran
Ukraine 1-1 Latvia
Luxembourg 1-2 Turkey
Austria 1-1 Bosnia & Herzegovina
Slovakia 1-0 Czech Republic
Italy 1-1 England
Colombia 3-1 Kuwait
Qatar 1-0 Slovenia
Macedonia 0-0 Australia

UEFA Euro 2016 qualifier
Israel 0-1 Belgium

Africa Cup of Nations roundup: Tunisia, DR Congo draw in group finale, advance to QF

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Another day, another pair of spots in the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) quarterfinals were booked as Group B teams played their third and final group stage games. The knockout rounds kick of this Saturday, Jan. 31.

DR Congo 1-1 DR Tunisia

Tunisia’s Ahmed Akaichi and DR Congo’s Jeremy Bokila scored either side of halftime to draw 1-1, which was just enough for DR Congo (3 points), who finished second, to edge out Cape Verde (3) based on the second tiebreaker, goals scored.

A draw was all Tunisia (5) needed in order to win the group. DR Congo will face Group A winners Congo in the quarterfinals, while Tunisia will face Group A runners-up Equatorial Guinea.

Cape Verde 0-0 Zambia

Played in a torrential downpour, and at one point nearly stopped due to the inclement weather, Cape Verde and Zambia both struggled to create high-quality scoring chances as either side would have advanced to the quarterfinals with a single goal.

“I’m very sad and disappointed with the result but not with my players,” said Cape Verde head coach Rui Aguas following the game. “They did all they could. We missed a lot of chances in three games but we gave 100 per cent, we gave our all.”

Zambia boss Honour Janza was equally upbeat following his side’s elimination: “It is sad but let us be positive that the future looks bright for our team, the young boys we came with here will be a force in African football in the next two to three years.”

Tuesday’s AFCON schedule

Senegal vs. Algeria
South Africa vs. Ghana

Africa Cup of Nations roundup: Tunisia comes back for win; Mayuka, Mulumbu injured

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It wasn’t a banner day for hot soccer action at the Africa Cup of Nations, but that didn’t stop Group B’s favorite from collecting its points and settling into the driver’s seat.

Zambia 1-2 Tunisia

Southampton’s Emmanuel Mayuka gave Zambia a surprise 1-0 lead after 59 minutes, but the Eagles of Carthage responded like favorites. Mayuka, however, would later be carried off on a stretcher after an injury. No updates have been provided.

[ USMNT: Alex Bono profile ]

Despite being out shot 18-7 for the match, Tunisia found a pair of goals in the final 20 minutes to seize the day. First Ahmed Akaichi finished an Mohamed Ali Manser corner in the 70th minute, followed by captain Yasine Chikhaoui’s (FC Zurich) headed winner in the 89th.

Tunisia needs just a point against DR Congo to advance to the knockout round.

Cape Verde 0-0 DR Congo

If you’re paying attention to this tournament for the Premier Leaguers, the Democratic Republic of Congo team did not provide highlights. Yannick Bolasie (Crystal Palace) played just over an hour, and wasn’t effective. Worse, West Bromwich Albion’s Youssouf Mulumbu was stretchered off after just 20 minutes.

A goal didn’t end up coming, which is far worse for DR Congo. They have a much heavier lift in the group finale against Tunisia, while Cape Verde faces Zambia.

Friday’s matches

Ghana vs. Algeria

South Africa vs. Senegal

Cape Verde eliminated after FIFA sanction for ineligible player

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FIFA announced that it has overturned Cape Verde’s 2-0 win over Tunisia on Saturday, turning it into a forfeit and 3-0 Tunisia win because defender Fernando Varela (pictured, No. 3) had not served a full suspension before playing in the game. The new result reverses the teams’ places in the standings, meaning Tunisia will participate in the playoff round.

Cape Verde has also been fined 6,000 Swiss francs (about $6,500) by the FIFA Disciplinary Committee. In July, FIFA also sanctioned Ethiopia, Togo and Equatorial Guinea for similar offenses in what has been a bizarre summer for African nations fielding ineligible players.

Ethiopia’s Minyahile Teshome Beyene failed to serve an automatic one-game suspension for receiving two yellow cards in the competition, as did Togo’s Jacques Alaixys Romao. Equatorial Guinea’s Emilio Nsue López played in two matches while he was ineligible.

In all cases, opposing teams in the matches concerned were awarded 3-0 forfeit victories.

Ghana is through to Africa Cup of Nations semifinals, eliminates Cape Verde

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Ghana came into the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations looking to show more attacking ambition than in previous tournaments, and through three games, it’s worked. The Black Stars took seven points from three games to finish on top of Group B. Along the way, they scored six goals, an output that’s positioned them next to Ivory Coast as the team most likely to win this tournament.

On Saturday, in a quarterfinal the Black Stars were expected to win, we saw a bit of a reversion to type. Ghana didn’t find an open play goal against Cape Verde until stoppage time, though by then an early second half Wakaso Mubarak penalty kick had forced the Blue Sharks to chase the match. With Cape Verde throwing men forward, Mubarak completed his double and sent Ghana into the semifinals after a 2-0 win.

Throughout the match, Ghana coach James Kewsi Appiah left striker Asamoah Gyan alone up top, a setup that harkened back to the more conservative approaches the Black Stars have employed in recent year. For his part Gyan conceded it was difficult but fruitful work:

“It can be quite frustrating, being alone upfront,” Gyan conceded, “but being on the winning side is all that matters.”

Saturday’s victory clinched the Black Stars’ fourth straight semifinal appearance, a final four place that won’t be free of controversy. Just as any match decided by a penalty kick would be, today’s result was disputed, with Cape Verde boss Lucio Antunes asking reporters to “have to take your own conclusions on the officiating” which decide Gyan drew a penalty after going to round in the 52nd minute.

Sarcastically, Antunes also noted it was better for the tournament for Ghana to advance, as they’d draw bigger crowds.

“The result is fair because Ghana have good players,” Antunes said. “The tournament wasn’t going to be interesting with Togo versus Cape Verde.”

While the sentiments were obviously misplaced, there is some truth in noting South Africa’s crowds are largely pro-Ghanian. The country adopted the Black Stars in 2010 when Ghana was Africa’s last survivor at the World Cup.

The support has carried over to this year’s Cup of Nations, with Appiah noting the support has side saw Saturday.

“South Africa is a second home of Ghanaians,” the Black Stars boss said. “I wish I could get dual nationality, I’d choose South Africa!”

The warmth of the crowd was also felt on the field, with Gyan noting the “wonderful reception for (Ghana) and I want to pray for South Africa, so that they do well for the sake of their people’s kindness to us.”

Such sentiments are sure to maintain South African loyalties into the next round. There, Ghana will face the winner of tomorrow’s Burkina Faso-Togo meeting in Nelspruit.