Little Guinea send Goliath packing

27 January 2012 - 02:30 By Mark Gleeson
subscribe Just R20 for the first month. Support independent journalism by subscribing to our digital news package.
Subscribe now

Equatorial Guinea produced arguably the biggest upset in Nations Cup finals history on Wednesday by beating Senegal 2-1 to book a quarterfinal place and send one of the favourites tumbling out.

A stunning long-range shot by fullback David Alvarez in stoppage time sent Equatorial Guinea to top place in Group A and the small country into delirious celebration.

Iban Iyanga, better known by his footballing name Randy, headed home the first goal of the game just after the hour mark to set up the win, but home hopes seemed dashed when Senegal equalised in the 89th minute through Moussa Sow.

Alvarez then hit a spectacular drive from outside the penalty box to win the match and ensure that one of Africa's smallest countries will play in next week's quarterfinals.

Big guns Senegal, after a surprise loss to Zambia on the opening day, are out.

Spurred on by some 30000 red-clad spectators who screamed and cheered almost every move by their team, Equatorial Guinea held out against a Senegal line-up full of players from European clubs.

Ranked 108 places below Senegal, Equatorial Guinea's controversially assembled side - all born outside the country - fought for every ball on a rain-soddened pitch.

The hosts had few chances but also ensured a frustrating evening for Senegal, who threw everything forward in the last quarter-hour before Sow equalised.

Senegal striker Demba Ba had three good opportunities in a 12-minute spell in the first half but missed them all.

A stinging shot from Guirane Ndaw was well-saved by Equatorial Guinea's Brazil-born goalkeeper Danilo. In the second half, Mamadou Niang also produced chances for Senegal, but the home defence held tight until Sow netted from close range.

Senegal had been the strongest-looking team in the qualifiers, emerging from a tough group ahead of former winners Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of Congo, but now go home victims of the most unlikely result.

Earlier, Zambia rallied twice in a 2-2 draw with Libya. They need just a draw to progress also from Group A.

The double-header was delayed for more than an hour following a tropical deluge that waterlogged the pitch.

Ahmed Saad scored at the start of each half for the north Africans, Zambia hitting back first through Emmanuel Mayuka - the Young Boys Berne forward scoring for the second match in a row - and then Chris Katongo.

"The players could have been badly injured. We should not have started," Libya's Djamal Abdallah said.

Katongo said: "The conditions were really bad and very difficult to play in. We had to resort to ping-pong football and that is not our style."

  • The Moses Mabhida stadium in Durban has emerged as the leading possible venue for Bafana Bafana's friendly international match against Senegal on February 29. A Safa official said yesterday it could host the match. - Reuters
subscribe Just R20 for the first month. Support independent journalism by subscribing to our digital news package.
Subscribe now