Finish On A High. That could be the name of this penultimate game of AFCON 2015 between Equatorial Guinea and DR Congo.
Les Léopards raised the AFCON semi-final curtains on Wednesday against arch-favorites Ivory Coast. Florent Ibenge men, pumped, as ever, by their hopes of writing another page of DR Congo football rich history, and the surprise visit of president Joseph Kabila before the game, started their semi final on a high tempo against Les Eléphants of Ivory Coast.
The flying start was stopped by a monstrous rocket from Yaya Touré in the net of Robert Kidiaba. Undeterred, DR Congo reacted and pushed Ivory Coast to concede a penalty, which was perfectly converted by Dieumerci Mbokani.
The penalty would be Cupid’s kiss as Congo DR would find a way back into the game until the 41st minute where Florent Ibenge’s men would be betrayed by their atrocious defending on a speedy counter concluded by Gervinho. Wilfried Kanon’s third in the 68th minute would be the sealer.
A day after, hosts Equatorial Guinea faced Ghana in the second AFCON semi-final.Nzalang Nacional, and would have the same fate as Congo DR albeit with more controversy. In a full house at Malabo Stadium the hosts, spurred on by the terrific atmosphere created by the home crowd, would hold out until the 42nd minute when Jordan Ayew converted a penalty after Kwesi Appiah was fouled in the box by an onrushing Felipe Ovono. That first assault which would be followed by a second goal brought by a supersonic counter and finish by Mubarak Wakaso.
Ghanaians killed the game in first half and would return to Malabo stadium lockers under policemen protection after being pelted by the home crowd with bottles and other items.
The second half would be the same story. A technically tasteless as frozen rice performance from Equatorial Guinea ornamented by constant dives, complains and petulance towards the referee. The show would reach its peak when Ghana and André Ayew put the icing on the cake with the third goal.
More bottles would be thrown until the game would be halted on the 81st minute and the disgraceful events we all witnessed unfolded.
The 3rd place game between Nzalang and Les Léopards sees both teams share the same target after being outclassed in semis: finish on a high note.
After their controversial run in this AFCON 2015, Esteban Becker’s men want to finish their adventure in a good way and erase (partially) the dramaturgy of Thursday in the same theater of Malabo Stadium.
On their side, Florent Ibenge’s boys will try to repeat their 1998 achievement where they snatched the bronze medal from the hosts’ jaws in a historic comeback. This third place game is likely to be the last international appearance for the hero of an entire nation Robert Kidiaba. The TP Mazembe goalkeeper will hang up his international boots after the tournament.