It was an…eventful, shall we say…first day of 2015 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) semifinals action on Saturday. An injured player was run over by the medical cart that was supposed to pick him up and drive him off the field in the first quarterfinal game, while the head referee was berated and chased from the field after whistling one of the worst penalty kick calls you’ll ever see in the other game.
Congo 2-4 DR Congo
First things first, let’s let DR Congo defender Gabriel Zakuani (brother of former MLS star Steve Zakuani) tell his side of the story.
Come on, Gabriel, you make it sound like you were just sitting there and the cart ran into you completely unexpectedly.
Well then, OK, you weren’t joking. The score was still 0-0 at that point of the game, less than five minutes into the second half. That changed shortly after (and often) when Ferebory Dore put Congo a goal ahead in the 55th minute. Almeria forward Thievy Bifouma doubled the lead seven minutes later and things looked rosy as could be for the Diables Rouges.
Dynamo Kiev forward Dieumerci Mbokani pulled one back for DR Congo in the 65th minute, Jeremy Bokila equalized with 15 minutes of regular tie still to be played, and the Leopards weren’t done yet. Joel Kimwaki gave DR Congo the lead in the 81st minute, and Mbokani gave his side the much-desired insurance goal in the 91st.
Zero goals for 55 minutes, followed by six goals in the final 35 minutes — that’s the beauty of AFCON, baby. DR Congo will face the winner of Ivory Coast vs. Algeria in the first semifinal this Wednesday, Feb. 4.
Tunisia 1-2 (after extra time) Equatorial Guinea
While the notable events from the day’s first quarterfinal were lighthearted and everyone came away unscathed, the same can’t be said of the post-whistle events after hosts Equatorial Guinea advanced to the AFCON semifinals for the first time ever.
All Tunisia had to do was navigate second-half stoppage time with the 1-0 lead still intact, and they were through to the semis. Then came the game’s most controversial decision as referee Rajindraparsad Seechurn awarded Equatorial Guinea a penalty kick after a blatant dive by Ivan Bolado. Javier Balboa stepped up to the penalty spot and converted with less than a minute of stoppage time remaining.
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Seechurn found himself the center of attention in the 100th minute as Balboa was the next Equatorial Guinea player to go down easily, this time winning a free kick six yards outside Tunisia’s penalty area. Balboa took the ensuing free kick and scored a stunning goal that snuck into the upper 90, leaving goalkeeper Aymen Mathlouthi completely helpless.
Following the final whistle, Tunisian protests turned angry and physical as the entire team raced to the face of the referee, verbally berated him and had to be forcibly separated by stadium security in order to remove Seechurn from the field of play before he was chased down the tunnel, according to reports. As the teams left the field, Tunisia players were pelted with by objects raining down from the crowd.
Equatorial Guinea will face the winner of Ghana vs. Guinea in the second semifinal this Thursday, Feb. 5.
Sunday’s AFCON schedule
Ghana vs. Guinea (11 am ET)
Ivory Coast vs. Algeria (2:30 pm ET)