AFCON 2023: Day of Upsets To Start Tournament

After a 2-0 win by hosts Ivory Coast over Guinea-Bissau to open the tournament, day 2 of AFCON 2023 was filled with upsets. Cape Verde stunned Ghana with a 2-1 win to start off their campaign, while Equatorial Guinea pulled off a tie against the mighty Ghanan team. Mozambique almost pulled off a stunning upset against Egypt but were saved by a late penalty by Mo Salah.

Here is a look at all major storylines thus far through the tournament.

Ivory Coast Handle Guinea-Bissau With Ease

Hosts Ivory Coast began their tournament with a comprehensive win over Guinea-Bissau on the 13th at Olympic Stadium of Ebimpé. The team got off to a hot start with Seko Fofana blasting one into goal from just inside the area in just the fourth minute.

He was almost able to double the lead before half-time with another powerful strike but the shot was tipped over the bar by Ouparine Djoco. Jean-Philippe Krasso however was able to secure the win with a hooking left-footed shot from eight yards out in the 58th minute.

The best chance for Guinea-Bissau came from Mama Balde in the first half. After getting into the box he was able to get a shot off but Djoco was there for a relatively simple save. 

Ivory Coast will be attempting to win their third AFCON after winning in 1992 and 2015. They will be gravely missing their first-choice striker Sebastien Haller however due to injury.

Nigeria Ties in Debut 1-1 with Equatorial Guinea

Nigeria came into the matchup as heavy favourites, boasting the African Player of the Year, Víctor Osimhen, on their side. The team however was unable to come out of the match with all three points, only managing a tie against Equatorial Guinea.

Nigeria dominated the ball but it was Equatorial Guinea that opened the scoring in the match. Against the run of play, Iban Salvador netted the team’s only shot on target in the 37th minute. The lead didn’t last very long though, as Napoli forward Osimhen headed Nigeria level just two minutes later. It was his 21st international goal.

Even though Nigeria were able to keep the ball and pressure they couldn’t find the back of the net for the rest of the match. Equatorial Guinea goalkeeper Jesus Owono in fine form, making  fine saves to keep the score level.

With the draw, Nigeria temporarily are in third place in Group A, while Equatorial Guinea holds second place with the same points. Ivory Coast leads the group after a win in their opener.

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Cape Verde Stun Ghana with 2-1 Win

Cape Verde upset Ghana with a stoppage-time winner to take the top spot in Group B. Garry Rodrigues tapped into an empty net in the 92nd minute after a big mix up by the Ghanan defense.

The match started with Cape Verde going ahead in the 17th minute when Jamiro Monteiro tucked away a loose ball caused by a Rodrigues shot on goal. 

Ghana thought they had equalized just 10 minutes before the half, when Majeed Ashimeru struck a powerful long-distance shot into the net. After a VAR check however the goal was disallowed because Ransford Konigsdorffer was caught in an offside position.

Ghana was however able to tie up the game 11 minutes into the second half with a Alexander Djiku header from Jordan Ayew’s corner.  

Cape Verde are now two points clear in Group B after Egypt drew 2-2 with Mozambique earlier on Sunday.

Joseph Paintsil of Ghana and Cape Verde defenders during the TotalEnergies Caf Africa Cup of Nations match between Ghana and Cape Verde
IMAGO / Shengolpixs

Mo Salah Saves Egypt With Late Goals

Mo Salah scored a penalty seven minutes into stoppage time to help Egypt avoid a loss to Mozambique in their opener. Mozambique fell behind early to a second-minute strike from Mostafa Mohamed but were able to compose themselves and score two quick goals in the second half. 

Mozambique, ranked 111th in the world, 78 places below Egypt, will be happy with the draw even though the win was in their grasp. With the draw, Egypt have taken second place in Group B behind Cape Verde and Mozambique is in third.

Egypt’s next game will be a big one against Ghana as Group B’s top two teams battle on Thursday.