By Emmanuel Yaw Nkansah
The quarterfinal matches of the ongoing African Nations Championship have all been honored and, yeah, the Black Galaxies are out. Apparently, directionless ‘vibes and inshallah’ football does not win you trophies.
In other news, Algeria appears to be bent on winning all their matches by a one goal margin, and you cannot help but wonder how long they can keep this run of form going.
Madagascar and Senegal also booked their semifinal places to complete the quartet for penultimate stage of the tournament.
The first quarterfinal game, played on Friday, saw Algeria book a semifinal berth courtesy a 1-0 win against Ivory Coast. The Ivorians lived up to their ‘perennial underachievers’ tag as they somehow managed to fumble a one-man advantage and succumb to defeat.
Algerian goalkeeper Alexis Guendouz was sent off in the 20th minute after a VAR review overturned the original decision not to send him off.
A one-man advantage should have been enough to give the Ivorians the chance to dominate and perhaps grab the win but, defender Kouassi Attohoula Yao also got sent off in the 34th minute to leave both teams with ten men on the pitch.
Algeria pretty much dominated the game from that point onward until the Ivory Coast defense was broken when the conceded a late penalty. Algerian striker and top scorer at the tournament, Aimen Mahious made no mistake from the spot and scored from the spot to win the game for Algeria in the 96th minute.
Yet another 1-0 victory for the hosts in the tournament, truly, ‘a goal a game keeps elimination away’.
In the second quarterfinal game on Friday night at the 19 May 1956 Stadium, Mauritania in spite of their near total dominance of their more favored opponents, somehow contrived to lose the game by a 1-0 against Senegal.
A 34th minute penalty goal by Lamine Camara was enough to edge Senegal past Mauritania after a performance which should have seen them eliminated. Interestingly, the only shot on target from the Senegalese is what won them the match.
Heartbreak for Mauritania, absolute delight for Senegal as they booked their place in the semifinal.
The third quarterfinal match, and the first game of Saturday, saw Madagascar romp to a 3-1 victory against Mauritania.
Goals from Solomampionona Razafindranaivo, Jean Yves Razafindrakoto, and Marcio Ravelomanantsoa, in the 18th, 67th, and 87th minutes of the game respectively secured the win for the Malagasy.
Striker Isac Carvalho scored what was merely a consolation goal for Mozambique in the 94th minute as the game ended 3-1. Madagascar march on toward what might end up as a shock African Nations Championship triumph while Mozambique will be left lamenting their inability to turn their dominance of ball possession into a far more meaningful footballing currency – goals.
The Black Galaxies of Ghana were spectacularly poor and uninspiring enroute to crashing out of the CHAN tournament as they suffered a 2-0 defeat against a much more purposeful Niger side. Just how bad were coach Annor Walker’s charges on Saturday night? Well, it was not until the game was almost over before they managed to register their first shot on target. They were that bad and it was clear that the Black Galaxies sorely missed star-man Afriyie Barnieh’s talent upfront as they were unable to fashion any meaningful goalscoring chances from their dominance of ball possession. Imarana Seyni Dan Baro (11) and Boubacar Hainikoye (49) got the goals for Niger to book their place in the semifinal. ‘Vibes and inshallah’ does not win you tournaments indeed.
With the quarterfinal games done and dusted, we turn our collective gaze toward the semifinal stage. Algeria takes on Niger at the Miloud Hadefi Stadium on Tuesday, 31st January in the first semifinal match at 4:00pm.
Senegal and Madagascar will clash in the second semifinal match later on Tuesday in the Nelson Mandela Stadium at 7:00pm. If the elimination of Ghana from the competition has not killed your interest in the tournament, you can watch those games live on GTV Sports+.