Cheikhou Kouyate and Ismaila Sarr scored inside the final 25 minutes as Senegal overcame Equatorial Guinea 3-1 to reach the Africa Cup of Nations semi-finals. 

Aliou Cisse's side were comfortably the better team in the first half and they deservedly went ahead in the 28th minute when Famara Diedhiou coolly slotted past Jesus Owono after being played in by Sadio Mane.

Equatorial Guinea thought they had been given the chance to draw level shortly after the interval when Iban Salvador clipped against Kalidou Koulibaly's hand in the penalty area, but referee Victor Gomes overturned his initial decision after being encouraged to review the incident by the VAR.

They were not to be denied in the 57th minute, though, Jannick Buyla controlling Pablo Ganet's pass and firing past Edouard Mendy before the Senegal goalkeeper could set himself.

Kouyate needed just three minutes after being introduced from the bench to restore Senegal's advantage after 68 minutes, flicking home after a mix-up in the opposition defence, while fellow substitute Sarr wrapped up the win with a simple finish 11 minutes from full-time as his side reached the semi-finals in consecutive tournaments for the first time. 

Senegal will now face Burkina Faso, who beat Tunisia 1-0 on Saturday, in Wednesday's last-four clash.

The Africa Cup of Nations is heating up in the quarter-final stage, with Sunday's encounters two of the more fascinating of the round on paper.

After edging past the Ivory Coast in the round of 16 on penalties, Egypt take on Morocco where two stars of world football, Mohamed Salah and Achraf Hakimi, go head-to-head.

Senegal will play Equatorial Guinea for just the second time at the AFCON, with the latter winning the previous such game 2-1 in the group stages in 2012.

Stats Perform takes a look at both games as we get closer to the business end of this year's tournament.

 

Egypt v Morocco (15:00 GMT)

This will be the seventh AFCON encounter between these teams, with Morocco winning three of the previous six (D1 L2), although Egypt won the most recent encounter in the 2017 quarter-finals.

The Pharaohs have won each of their past four quarter-final matches at the AFCON, having progressed in just one of their previous five.

Morocco have won six of their past eight matches in this competition (D2), scoring in every game in this run, although they are looking to reach the semi-finals of the competition for the first time since finishing runners-up to Tunisia in 2004.

There have been a number of tight games at this year's tournament and that may be the case again here. Egypt have only conceded seven goals in their 20 games at the AFCON since 2010 (W14 D3 L3), keeping 14 clean sheets.

Morocco's Romain Saiss has accumulated an expected goals (xG) tally of 1.99 from his five attempts in the competition, the highest xG of any player who is yet to score this year.

One to watch: Achraf Hakimi (Morocco)

The Paris Saint-Germain right-back had been having a relatively quiet AFCON up until the knockout stages, only to put in a top-quality performance to help his nation topple Malawi in the round of 16.

His excellent free-kick in the 2-1 win was just one of his five attempts at goal, four of which were on target. Hakimi had only taken three shots in total in his three group stage appearances. His partnership with Imran Louza – who made five key passes against Malawi, more than anyone else – on the right could be vital, with Salah likely occupying their team-mates on the other side.

 

Senegal v Equatorial Guinea (19:00 GMT)

It was a horrible sight to see Sadio Mane crash to the floor after a head collision with Cape Verde goalkeeper Vozinha in their round-of-16 tie, despite picking himself up to score the winner moments later.

Whether the Liverpool man is fit to play remains to be seen, but it could be crucial as he has scored 44 per cent of Senegal's goals (seven of 16, excluding own goals) at the AFCON since 2017, while none of his team-mates have scored more than once in this time.

Senegal have progressed from three of their past five quarter-final matches at the AFCON, while they are looking to reach the semi-finals in consecutive tournaments for the first time.

Equatorial Guinea have lost just one of their most recent five AFCON games (W2 D2), keeping four clean sheets and conceding just once.

Since the start of the 2017 tournament, Senegal have won more games (nine) and kept more clean sheets (12) than any other team.

One to watch: Saul Coco (Equatorial Guinea)

The Las Palmas defender was a rock at the back for his country in the round-of-16 clash with Mali, making seven clearances, more than twice as many as any of his team-mates, as well as three blocks. He also scored his penalty in the shoot-out and may need that calm temperament when facing Senegal's pacey attack.

He is also part of an Equatorial Guinea defence that has conceded just once in the tournament, despite facing an overall xG of 4.2.

 

Equatorial Guinea advanced to the quarter-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations after Falaye Sacko's missed penalty consigned Mali to a shock 6-5 shoot-out defeat.

Spot-kicks were required to settle a poor round-of-16 showdown after a goalless 120 minutes at Limbe Stadium on Wednesday, and Sacko's tame strike was decisively kept out by Jesus Owono.

Pablo Ganet had passed up the chance to win it for the underdogs when Ibrahim Mounkoro denied him from 12 yards after Mali duo Massadio Haidara and Hamari Traore failed to convert, but Sacko's miss sealed a last-eight meeting with Senegal for Equatorial Guinea on Sunday.

Mali were awarded a penalty late in a drab first half when Josete Miranda was adjudged to bundled Moussa Doumbia over, but referee Bakary Gassama overturned his decision following a check on the pitchside monitor.

The Eagles had been the better side to that point and Mohamed Camara should have put them in front after the break, blazing high over the crossbar from 12 yards out after Yves Bissouma had set him up.

Neither side really looked like winning it in extra time, but it was Equatorial Guinea who were celebrating despite Emilio Nsue blazing the first spot-kick high over the bar and Ganet also fluffing his lines.

Mali claimed Owono had come off his line before Sacko struck the decisive penalty, but their protests were waved away.

 

 

 

Ivory Coast and Egypt will contest arguably the tie of the round on Wednesday as the two giants hope to book their passage to the quarter-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations.

Carlos Queiroz's Pharaohs failed to impress during the group stage, ultimately reaching the knockouts thanks to 1-0 wins over Guinea-Bissau and Sudan, teams many would expect them to beat comfortably.

They got the job done but now come up against one of the more eye-catching teams from the first round in Ivory Coast, who rounded off the group stage with a 3-1 win over defending champions Algeria.

In Wednesday's other last-16 contest, and the final game of the round, surprise package Equatorial Guinea will hope to continue their promising campaign against Mali, who will be firm favourites.

Ivory Coast v Egypt (16:00 GMT)

Mohamed Salah and Egypt have struggled to rise to the occasion so far in Cameroon – if they cannot get themselves up for this, they will surely be heading home.

This will be the 11th AFCON meeting between these two sides, making it the competition's most-played fixture, and Egypt boast a good record against the Elephants in knockout games.

Ivory Coast have not been successful in any of the previous four elimination clashes – the two most recent were in the 2006 final when Egypt won on penalties, and the semi-final two years later as they ran out 4-1 winners.

As such, Ivory Coast will surely feel they have a score to settle, and Egypt's record of losing each of their past two AFCON knockout matches should give them some optimism.

One to watch: Nicolas Pepe (Ivory Coast)

He may be struggling to get a look-in at club level with Arsenal, but Pepe is undoubtedly key for the Elephants. Only Algeria's Youcef Belaili (24) was directly involved in more shots than him in the group stage (19 – 12 shots, seven chances created), while the former Lille winger has been directly involved in more goals than any other Ivory Coast player in the tournament so far (three – two goals, one assist).

 

Mali v Equatorial Guinea (19:00)

Mali may have come through the group stage unbeaten, but Equatorial Guinea will not be writing themselves off producing a shock here.

After all, Les Aigles have had to largely rely on penalties to get their goals, highlighting that their route to this stage has not been entirely emphatic, while Equatorial Guinea have overcome greater odds.

In their previous four AFCON knockout games, they have progressed twice – both of those came in 2015, when they caused upsets by getting past Tunisia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

This edition of the tournament has seen its fair share of shocks already. Could Mali be the latest to be guilty of complacency?

One to watch: Adama Noss Traore (Mali)

As mentioned, Mali have almost entirely got by on penalties, with three of their four goals coming via Ibrahima Kone's spot-kicks. That meant they scored just once from 27 open play shots in the group stage, yet their non-penalty expected goals (xG) of 3.6 suggests chance creation was not the issue. Traore was their most effective player in that respect with his set-piece deliveries, tallying a squad-high key passes.

 

Algeria could become the second major casualty of the Africa Cup of Nations as the group stages are concluded on Thursday.

The defending champions head into their final – and arguably toughest – Group E match in a desperate position after failing to impress in their first two outings.

Thursday will also bring an end to Group F, where Algeria's neighbours Tunisia have plenty of work to do as well.

Ivory Coast v Algeria (16:00 GMT)

With one point from two matches, Algeria head into matchday three bottom of Group E and staring into the abyss of elimination.

Only a victory against group leaders Ivory Coast will be enough to take them into the knockouts, otherwise they will fall at the first hurdle for the third time in five AFCON tournaments.

Ivory Coast will be hoping to gain a measure of revenge for their 2019 quarter-final penalty shoot-out defeat to the Fennec Foxes, with the Elephants heading into the game unbeaten in five AFCON games.

They too have something to play for, with top spot still up for grabs.

One to watch: Youcef Belaili (Algeria)

You certainly cannot fault the effort of winger Belaili, given his eight shots is three more than any of his team-mates and he has also tallied the most touches in the opposition's box (11), but there is little getting away from the fact Algeria in general need to sharpen up in front of goal if they are to avoid following Ghana into shock elimination.

 

Sierra Leone v Equatorial Guinea (16:00 GMT)

Before the tournament started, few would have given this pair much hope of finishing in the top two, yet either could grasp that opportunity on Thursday.

Equatorial Guinea are second and hold a one-point advantage, meaning a draw may well be enough to get them through at least as one of the best third-placed teams.

But Sierra Leone drew 2-2 with Ivory Coast last time out following a goalless stalemate with Algeria – the results showed they are not to be taken lightly.

Equatorial Guinea will be favourites, however, and they have only ever lost two of their eight AFCON group games.

One to watch: Mohamed Nbalie Kamara (Sierra Leone)

Kamara has been one of the standout goalkeepers at the tournament so far. His 12 saves are the most of anyone, and those stops have seen him record a 'goals prevented' record of 2.1, the second-best record among keepers at the AFCON.

 

Gambia v Tunisia (19:00 GMT)

Although Tunisia could potentially sneak through as one of the best third-place teams with their current haul of three points, it would be a disappointing group stage total for a side that came into the tournament with high expectations.

Yet the Carthage Eagles' situation is slightly complicated by the fact they recorded seven new positive COVID-19 cases in the build-up, with key players Wahbi Khazri and Ali Maaloul among them.

That will be a boost to Gambia, however, with the Scorpions aiming to become only the third AFCON debutants this century to go unbeaten in the group stage.

But Tunisia have not lost to an AFCON debutant since the 1996 final.

One to watch: Hannibal Mejbri (Tunisia)

Manchester United youngster Hannibal has been used sparingly in this tournament, playing just 45 minutes so far. Yet, his tally of two chances created is only bettered by Khazri and Maaloul (both on three), and given Tunisia's COVID-19 issues, a first start may be on the cards.

 

Mali v Mauritania (19:00 GMT)

A wonderful chance presents itself here for Mali, as they target topping Group F.

If they better Gambia's result against Tunisia, that is exactly what they will achieve, as well as extending their longest ever group stage unbeaten run to seven matches.

Anything other than a Mali win would be a significant surprise given Mauritania are bottom of the group and pointless, their five goals conceded second-worse to Ethiopia, who have played a game more.

One to watch: Ibrahima Kone (Mali)

Kone has played a prominent role in Mali's solid start to the tournament, scoring a penalty in each of their two matches. If he nets against Mauritania, he will be the first Malian to tally get three goals in a single AFCON edition since former Barcelona midfielder Seydou Keita in 2013.

 

Algeria's Africa Cup of Nations title defence hangs in the balance following a 1-0 defeat by Equatorial Guinea.

Esteban Obiang struck 20 minutes from time at Stade omnisport de Douala to lift the National Thunder to second place in Group E.

The result also condemned Algeria to a first defeat in this competition since a 2-1 reverse against Tunisia in 2017, while they must now beat Ivory Coast in their final group game to have any chance of progressing to the knockout stages.

Despite only enjoying 33 per cent of the possession, Equatorial Guinea had the better first-half chances. Oscar Siafa drew a smart save out of Rais M'Bolhi, while Iban Salvador's rasping long-range drive was just wide of the target.

Algeria had the ball in the net at the other end, but Baghdad Bounedjah was denied by the offside flag.

The Desert Warriors continued to dominate possession, but were hit by a 70th-minute sucker punch as a low corner was flicked on by Josete Miranda, before Obiang applied the finishing touch at the far post.

Algeria pushed for the equaliser as the clock ticked down, but were unable to preserve their nine-match unbeaten run at the Africa Cup of Nations and are still seeking their first goal in this year's event.

Sunday's action at the Africa Cup of Nations will see two former winners go in search of much-needed points.

Algeria, champions in 1990 and three years ago, were held to a surprise draw by Sierra Leone on matchday one and sit second in Group E.

North African neighbours Tunisia, who won the tournament back in 2004, started their campaign with a 1-0 defeat to 10-man Mali and are in desperate need of a result against Mauritania.

Mali will take on Gambia, while the Ivory Coast will look to consolidate top spot in their group when they meet Sierra Leone.

 

Gambia v Mali

Gambia are bidding to become the first debutants to win their opening two matches at the Africa Cup of Nations since Equatorial Guinea did so in 2012.

That said, Mali are on a run of three wins in five AFCON games – as many as in their previous 15 in the competition – and are looking for consecutive victories to start the group for the first time since 2004.

In what will be a first meeting of these sides in this tournament, the advice is to keep your eye on the action in the second half: in the past 12 years, Mali have scored 21 of their 31 goals in this competition after half-time, a figure second only to Ivory Coast (25).

One to watch: Hamari Traore

Rennes captain Traore made nine final-third entries against Tunisia, the most of any player, as he proved a dangerous outlet. He could be a major threat.

 

Tunisia v Mauritania

Tunisia's shock loss to Mali was their third in a row at the AFCON, something they last suffered in 2004. They have never before lost four consecutive matches at this tournament.

The 2004 champions are also enduring a four-game winless run in the group stage and were held to a goalless draw by Mauritania in 2019 in their only previous meeting in this competition.

Mauritania, still without a victory at the Africa Cup of Nations, will at least hope to end a three-game run without a goal.

One to watch: Wahbi Khazri

Khazri missed a crucial 77th-minute penalty against Mali during a frustrating performance. The Saint-Etienne forward will be more determined that anyone to make amends.

 

Ivory Coast v Sierra Leone

Ivory Coast are seeking a third consecutive win in the AFCON group stages, something they last managed between January 2010 and January 2013.

History is on their side against Sierra Leone: they won the only previous meeting at this competition 4-0 back in 1994, in which Joel Tiehi scored a hat-trick - something no Ivory Coast player has managed since in the AFCON.

Sierra Leone have not scored in five of their previous six games at this event, only managing to do so against Burkina Faso in 1996, but they do have a man in good form at these finals...

One to watch: Mohamed Nbalie Kamara

Having studied Algeria's Riyad Mahrez by watching Manchester City footage, Sierra Leone goalkeeper became a national hero for his performance in their opening game. He even won praise from the country's president, Julius Maada Bio, who delivered a personal message of thanks on social media.

Algeria v Equatorial Guinea

The third-highest-ranked African side were frustrated on matchday one, and there will be a determination to put things right.

They do at least boast an impressive defensive record, having gone unbeaten in nine matches in this tournament and kept six clean sheets in their most recent eight games.

Equatorial Guinea have won just one AFCON match since getting two victories on their tournament debut in 2012. Still, they were unbeaten in five games before these finals and beat Tunisia in World Cup qualifying towards the end of last year.

One to watch: Youcef Belaili

Belaili created six opportunities on matchday one, taking his tally to 18 in the competition overall. That is double the amount of chances created by any other Algeria player since his debut three years ago.

 

Max Gradel's fifth-minute stunner was enough to see Ivory Coast start their Africa Cup of Nations campaign with a 1-0 win over Equatorial Guinea.

In just the second AFCON meeting between the two nations, experienced winger Gradel sent a thunderous first-time effort into the top-right corner to put the Elephants ahead in their opening encounter in Douala on Wednesday.

Yet despite facing a star-studded Ivory Coast side, Equatorial Guinea can consider themselves unfortunate not to have taken something against the two-time AFCON champions.

Indeed, Gradel's effort was the only attempt on target from Ivory Coast until substitute Nicolas Pepe forced a save from Manuel Sapunga in the 81st minute.

Emilio Nsue squandered Equatorial Guinea's best opportunity just after the hour-mark, drilling straight at Ivory Coast goalkeeper Badra Ali Sangare when through one-on-one.

But the Elephants were not made to pay for their relatively blunt attacking, given the quality at their disposal, as they took the lead in Group E and ensured their run of avoiding defeat in AFCON openers continued, having last gone down in such a game in 1996.

Wednesday sees the last remaining Africa Cup of Nations group get under way, with Tunisia and Ivory Coast set to be the biggest draws.

Both countries have designs on going deep into the tournament and will be eager to make positive starts to ensure they are not playing catch-up.

While Tunisia and Ivory Coast have racked up 44 AFCON qualifications between then, Gambia will be making their bow.

 

Tunisia v Mali (13:00 GMT)

Africa's second-highest ranked nation, Tunisia, are appearing in a 15th successive AFCON this year, setting a new record.

But they have only been beyond the last eight once (in 2019) since winning the tournament as hosts in 2004. The Carthage Eagles are, some might say, frequent under-achievers at this level.

Yet they head into the tournament in reasonably good shape having reached the final of last month's Arab Cup, only losing to AFCON champions Algeria after extra-time.

Mondher Kebaier will be expecting first opponents Mali to represent their toughest challenge in Group F, with the Eagles having never lost their AFCON opener (W6 D5).

One to watch: Hannibal Mejbri (Tunisia)

Manchester United midfielder Hannibal started all six of Tunisia's games as they reached the final of the Arab Cup. He may not feature quite as prominently in a full-strength squad, but he possesses the kind of off-the-cuff abilities that could help unlock stubborn defences. Expect him to draw a lot of fouls, such is his natural talent.

Mauritania v Gambia (16:00)

Gambia, along with the Comoros, are one of two nations debuting at the AFCON this year and will be eager to produce a positive showing.

In theory, they begin with arguably the most winnable of their three Group F games, with Mauritania coach Didier Gomes Da Rosa likening the match to a "semi-final".

His counterpart Tom Saintfiet has a better-travelled squad, however, his selection made up mostly of Europe-based players – Sampdoria, Gent, Spezia, Real Valladolid and even Roma are among the clubs represented.

The west-African nation may be the lowest-ranked team in the competition (150th), but they reached Cameroon as the only side to come through both the preliminary and group stages of qualifying, shocking Gabon, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola to top the table.

One to watch: Musa Barrow (Gambia)

Barrow is one of six Gambia players to ply his trade in Italy, though the 23-year-old is the most polished. The left winger also has an end product, with his 24 non-penalty Serie A goal involvements since the start of last season a highly respectable effort that is bettered by only 15 players.

 

Equatorial Guinea v Ivory Coast (19:00)

Ivory Coast might have gone all the way back in 2019 were it not for their somewhat surprising penalties elimination by Algeria in the last eight.

They are among the favourites once again and will have a shot at revenge when they meet Algeria in Group E, a clash that will likely determine who finishes top.

But first they tussle with an Equatorial Guinea side competing for the first time as a non-host nation, having been knocked out by Ivory Coast in the last eight 10 years ago and then reaching the semis in 2015.

Juan Micha's side will do well to see off the Elephants here, though, with Ivory Coast suffering just two defeats in their previous 20 AFCON group games.

One to watch: Sebastien Haller (Ivory Coast)

Ajax striker Haller is having an incredible season at club level, boasting a goals haul of 22 across between the Eredivisie and Champions League already. In fact, his 10 strikes in Europe made him the quickest player to reach double figures for career goals in the Champions League (six games), and he matched Cristiano Ronaldo's record of scoring in every single game in a single group stage.

 

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.