The final AFCON matches of the group stages saw many interesting scores and results on the day. Firstly, defending champions, Algeria, were knocked out of the tournament with only one embarrassing point to their name.
The biggest surprise saw Comoros defeat Ghana 3-2 and progress to the next round where they will face the host nation Cameroon. Malawi are the only representatives of the COSAFA region that made it to the round of 16.
It’s knockout time, a stage where if you snooze you lose. There is no second chance like in the group stages. The opening match saw explosive Burkina Faso struggle to beat 10-men Gabon in the 120 minutes.
The Gabonese were kept in the game by the heroics of AmaZulu’s third-choice keeper, Jean-Noël Amonome, who produced a top-class performance. The Panthers were true soldiers in this tournament despite the absence of captain and star player, the Arsenal man, Pierre Emerick Aubameyang Pierre Emerick Aubameyang who departed the Africa Cup of Nations due to medical reasons.
The match ended 1-1 after extra-time, The Stallions won the match 7-6 on penalties.
Nigeria and Tunisia battled it out in the second match of the night in search to join Burkina Faso in the quarter-finals. The match started at a high intensity, with Nigeria probing from all angles.
Tunisia, a side that featured in a controversial match where a referee ended a match prematurely were different. They were organized and never allowed the Super Eagles to show their prowess.
The coach of Nigeria, Augustine Eguavoen, came to this tournament with little or no support from the fans. He’s known as the serial failure in Nigeria because he has never delivered a trophy in his life. The Super Eagles of Nigeria were the only side to win all three matches in the group stages and that made them tournament favourites.
Tunisia were missing at least seven players and no one gave them a chance against in-form Nigeria. Early in the second half, Youssef Msakni put the Tunisians in front and that was the only goal of the match.
Coastal United will meet Warriors in the final of the Compact Cup. Both these sides won their semi-final matches 3-0 and 2-1 respectively. The only positives on the day were to see DStv Diski Challenge players getting a chance to play with their heroes. Other positives were seeing players finishing the matches without injuries.
With the league resumption imminent, players would be happy to get more game time.