There was a touch of quality from a Champions League player, heroics from a part-time goalkeeper from Deportivo Mongomo, and a raucous atmosphere here on the opening day of the 30th Africa Cup of Nations.
Streets were jammed hours before the opening game, a 1-1 draw between the hosts, Equatorial Guinea, and Congo, and the capacity here of 35,700 was exceeded as noisy home fans blocked all the gangways and walkways.
They screamed and cheered the singers who performed in the truncated but enjoyable Opening Ceremony, and gave a huge roar for Akon, the American-Senegalese hip-hop artist.
They had plenty to cheer in the game, too, as Congo started desperately and Equatorial Guinea created several chances, with one of them taken by Emilio Nsue, who plays in England for Middlesbrough.
Nsue was denied a second goal by a brilliant save by Christoffer Mafoumbi, the young Congolese goalkeeper who plays in the French fourth division, while the hosts’ goalkeeper, Felipe Ovono, also performed outstandingly as Congo came back strongly.
Ovono, a part-timer, would dream of the French fourth division: he plays in the semi-professional Equatoguinean league.
Claude Le Roy, the Congo coach, complained that his team should have had a police escort to the Stadium before the match.
They were stuck in a jam for 65 minutes, for a journey that should take 12 minutes, without air conditioning on their bus, and consequently had only 20 minutes to prepare.
The hosts stepped in at only two months’ notice to host the tournament when Morocco withdrew and Le Roy said: “Fantastic, they saved the competition.
“But you can’t give them everything, the police at the roadside were laughing at us.” he touch of class came in the next match between, Gabon and Burkina Faso.
Pierre Emerick Aubemayang, the Gabonese striker who plays for Borussia Dortmund, was the man who provided it.
He had a shot well saved by Steeve Yago and defenders raced back to block his next attempt from the rebound.
But Aubemayang outfoxed them, calmly controlled the ball and curled it high into the net.
Bertrand Traore, the Chelsea teenager on loan at Vitesse Arnhem, missed the best of several chances for Burkina Faso to equalise before Malick Evouna headed in at the other end to complete an impressive 2-0 win for Gabon.
They were cheered on by several thousand fans, most of them migrant workers in Equatorial Guinea.
Source : insidethegame.biz
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