Four games, four draws; that’s the situation in Group D of the AFCON 2015 after the second round of matches, none of the sides having been able to establish any sort of advantage whatsoever.
Like the first round, both games in the second round of Group D matches ended 1-1. First up was Cote d’Ivoire, who once again had to come from behind to rescue a point in a campaign that’s not going to plan in any way for our West African neighbours.
The other heavyweight in the group, Cameroon was pegged back by Guinea, condemning the Indomitable Lions to a second straight draw.
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Mali has been serious contenders at each of the past two AFCONS, and they showed why with a spirited performance against the Ivory Coast. Seven minutes was all it took for the Eagles to take the lead in the early game.
Sambou Yatabare sent in a lovely cross into the box from the right, and Bakary Sako connected with a sweet, one time volley that rifled into the net; certainly the goal of the tournament so far.
Coached by former Ghana assistant manager Herve Renard, Cote d’Ivoire stormed the half of their opponents seeking the equaliser. But for over 75 minutes they huffed and puffed to no avail.
Poor finishing and plain bad luck- the referee fluffed some really big decisions, kept Mali ahead right until the latter stages of the game. Desperate for an equaliser, Renard threw in his substitutes in quick succession, Max Gradel finally being the one to answer the call.
Yaya Toure and Sergio Aurier all contributed in a fine passing move that finally fell to Gradel, who had enough time to tee up his shot and pick his spot deep into the lowest corner of the net.
There wasn’t much time for any additional action, ending the game at 1-1.
Cameroon thus went into the second knowing that a win would put them in pole position in the group, but Valker Finke’s men were unable to hold on after taking an early lead.
Benjamin Moukandjo opened the scoring early on, but Guinea’s talismanic forward Ibrahima Traore rifled in the equaliser on the stroke of half time, another superb goal to end another Group D game in a stalemate.
The results mean one of Cameroon and Cote d’Ivoire, who play each other in the final group game; would have to exit the competition a little earlier than they had planned.
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