Equatorial Guinea

Africa Cup of Nations recap: DR Congo, Equatorial Guinea need penalties in third-place game

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The 2014 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) is quickly winding down (the final is Sunday at 2 pm ET) as DR Congo and Equatorial Guinea faced off in Saturday’s third-place game after falling at the hands of Ivory Coast and Ghana, respectively, in this week’s semifinals.

DR Congo defender Gabriel Zakuani called for his team to pull out of the third-place game earlier in the week following the awful scenes of fan violence during Thursday’s second semifinal, but the game went ahead anyway. Less than 4,000 fans were on hand for Saturday’s consolation game, leaving much of the 15,000-seat Nuevo Estadio de Malabo empty.

[ MORE: Ivory Coast, Ghana set to battle for AFCON title ]

There were no issues of poor behavior on Saturday as the game was played without incident.

DR Congo, two-time AFCON winners (1968, 1974), and Equatorial Guinea, who this year reached the semifinals for the first time ever, played to a 0-0 draw through 90 minutes and needed penalty kicks to decide this year’s second runners-up.

Cedric Mongongu converted DR Congo’s fourth penalty effort, following misses on Equatorial Guinea’s first two spot kicks, giving the Leopards their fourth AFCON finish of third place or better (4-2 final).

Tunisia fined $50,000, referee suspended after chaotic end to AFCON match

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A referee making a poor call that helps ruin your tournament doesn’t give a team the right to reign chaos down on a stadium.

That’s the gist of a ruling from the Confederation of African Football that suspended referee Rajindraparsad Seechurn for doing his job poorly but also came down on Tunisia for the way the side reacted to his call.

[ MORE: FA Cup roundup | Cahill picks China ]

Tunisia led 1-0 in its quarterfinal match against host nation Equatorial Guinea when a baffling penalty was given by Seechurn. How bad? You be the judge:

That led to an equalizer, and an extra time winner for Equatorial Guinea. It also led to Tunisian players chasing the referee around the field and a bevy of awful off-field behavior. It got as far as the head of Tunisia’s FA quitting the AFCON organizing committee, and widespread anger and a “wave of hate” from Tunisian fans.

From the Associated Press’ Gerald Imray, who has been all over the story:

Furious Tunisian players were guilty of insulting and trying to assault the referee after the game, CAF said, but none of the players were named or punished, according to the statement late Tuesday.

Along with the $50,000 fine, CAF ordered the Tunisian federation to send a letter of apology by the end of Thursday for suggesting the referee’s decision was part of intentional bias on CAF’s part against Tunisia. If the Tunisians did not apologize, CAF said, they could be thrown out of the next African Cup of Nations tournament in 2017.

Well, it’s not like CAF tournaments have done their best to abide by fair play, is it?

In any event, it’s a wild story that continues to take wild turns. And being so close to the final of a major tournament, you can’t help but empathize a bit with Tunisia, searching for its first title since 2004.

Africa Cup of Nations roundup: DR Congo, Equatorial Guinea into SF after wild day of events

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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.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s AFCON 2015 coverage ]

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)

Africa Cup of Nations roundup: Congo, Equatorial Guinea victorious in group finales, advance

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The first of eight 2015 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) quarterfinal places were decided in the Central African country of Equatorial Guinea on Sunday, as the tournament’s hosts and Group A favorites were victorious and secured passage into the knockout rounds.

[ MORE: All of PST’s 2015 AFCON coverage ]

Gabon 0-2 Equatorial Guinea

All Gabon (3 points) needed from the group stage finale was a point against Equatorial Guinea (2), and Les Pantheres would find themselves in the quarterfinals for just the third time in their history. But it wasn’t meant to be as the host nation put in an inspired performance, particularly in the second half, despite being under pressure for most of the 90 minutes.

Very much against the run of play, and highly controversially, Equatorial Guinea were awarded a penalty in the 54th minute when forward Javier Balboa went down very easily inside the Gabon penalty area. Slow-motion replays confirmed there was little to no contract and that Balboa had in fact dived and conned the referee. Regardless, the penalty was awarded and Balboa himself converted to put the hosts up 1-0.

19-year-old forward Iban doubled Equatorial Guinea’s lead and sealed all three points, along with a place in the quarterfinals, when he poked home a rebound from close range in the 86th minute. Gabon held 66 percent of possession, but failed to convert possession into anything more (9 shots to Equatorial Guinea’s 10, 4 on target to 6).

[ FULL RECAP: Saturday’s AFCON action as struggles continue for Ivory Coast, Cameroon ]

Congo 2-1 Burkina Faso

The math was simple for Congo (4 points): a victory against Burkina Faso (1), and they win the group; a draw, and they finish either first or second.

The 90 minutes which unfolded on Sunday were anything but simple for Congo, though. Following a scoreless first half, it wasn’t until shortly after halftime that Congo finally broke through as Almeria forward Thievy Bifouma bundled the ball over the line from six yards out in the 51st minute.

Burkina Faso equalized with five minutes of regular time still to be played. Forward Aristide Bance redirected a cross from eight yards out past the goalkeeper to give his side a glimmer of hope. Congo hit right back, though, as forward Fabrice N’Guessi restored the lead a minute later and secured top spot in Group A.

Monday’s AFCON schedule

Cape Verde vs. Zambia (1 pm ET)
DR Congo vs. Tunisia (1 pm ET)

Africa Cup of Nations roundup: Fans clash with police, Congo wins first AFCON match since 1974

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Off the field stories are towering over play on Wednesday at the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations, as pre-match Ebola checks, grenade-attacked viewing parties and fans clashes with police headlined the day.

The Associated Press reports that “hundreds” of fans were involved in pregame fights with police ahead of Equatorial Guinea’s match with Burkina Faso. Fans threw rocks at police, which rarely goes over well, and the officers responded by launching tear gas into the crowd.

[ MORE: Arsenal closing in on La Liga defender ]

Meanwhile on the field, the hosts continue to surprise the tournament. Equatorial Guinea is at the heart of a Wednesday’s duo of matches.

Equatorial Guinea 0-0 Burkina Faso

The tournament’s hosts picked up a second-successive draw, and can advance to the knockout rounds if they’re able to beat Gabon in the Group A finale on Sunday.

The sides combined for 27 total shots, but just six were on goal.

source: APGabon 0-1 Congo

Ladies and gentlemen, nothing is decided in Group A after favored Gabon was stunned by Congo on Wednesday.

How stunning was it? Congo hadn’t won an AFCON match since 1974.

Just after halftime, Congo captain Prince Oniangue (right) took advantage of a lapse in Gabon’s defensive communication during a corner kick and hit a low ball into the goal.

That meant it was game on, with Congo leaping to the top of the group via the power of an opening draw with Equatorial Guinea.

Thursday’s matches

Zambia vs. Tunisia

Cape Verde vs. DR Congo