Orange Africa Cup of Nations – Sunday 29 January 2012
Equatorial Guinea (0) – (1) Zambia [Nuevo Estadio de Malabo]
Libya (2) – (1) Senegal [Estadio de Bata]
So here we are at the final round of Group games. For these fixtures and in order to ensure that there is no advantage to any team, both games kick-off at the same time. It provides an occasion that players, coaches and fans are spending the game with half an eye on events happening elsewhere. The permutations of who could go through and how, made the Duckworth Lewis Method look simple! All that was certain going into the games today was that Equatorial Guinea were through and Senegal were out. Zambia were in control of their destiny in that they knew a victory would see them through and also top the Group. Libya were at the mercy of events in Malabo, all they could do was go out and win the game and hope Equatorial Guinea did them a favour.
Libya got the perfect start when on 5 minutes they opened the scoring. Senegal were sloppy in defence and gifted Ahmed Sa’ad the ball, whose jinking run and clever through ball to Ihab Albusaifi was slotted home. Zambia at this stage were drawing 0-0, so still had the edge in terms of progressing. Senegal then further dented Libyan hopes, when on 11 minutes Deme N’Diaye headed home a corner. His task was made easier by Libyan keeper Samir Aboud, who having started to come for the corner, then stopped and was in no position to claim the corner or stop the header. Back in Malabo there was still no score in the opening ten minutes. Libya and Senegal continued to provide a more end to end game than that between Equatorial Guinea and Zambia and so at the half-time whistle it was 1-1 in Bata and 0-0 in Malabo. The second-half continued to lack bite and edge, not so surprising since both teams had qualified. However, on 68 minutes Zambia took the lead. From a throw-in Chris Katongo received the ball, took on one defender, cut across the penalty area, before sending a skimming shot than bounced a couple of times in front of the keeper before finding the net. This goal meant that Zambia were now top of the Group and the chances of Libya advancing receded significantly. The game in Bata became scrappy, but Libya didn’t give up hope and were rewarded on 84 minutes when Senegal didn’t deal with a long ball into the box, allowing Zuway to cross for Ihab Albusaifi, who volleyed home to give the Libyans a 2-1 advantage. However, to go through they needed Equatorial Guinea to score twice in the remaining minutes, which looked a forlorn hope as the game in Malabo drifted to a finish. At the whistle, Zambia (1-0) and Libya (2-1) had won the final fixtures, with Zambia through as Group winners and Equatorial Guinea as runners-up. Libya had not disgraced themselves given the difficult period they had leading to the tournament. For Senegal it was an embarrassing exit; as one of the pre-competition favourites, they left without a single point.
(1) Zambia: 7 pts, (2) Equatorial Guinea: 6 pts, (3) Libya: 4pts, (4) Senegal: 0 pts.