Posted by News Express | 28 January 2013 | 2,858 times
It was a tale of the expected this evening as Ghana, one of the pre-tournament favourites, crushed Niger in their last Group B match to cruise into the quarter-finals of the 29th Africa Cup of Nations.
Unlike what happened yesterday when minnows Cape Verde picked a quarter-final ticket, there were no surprises today as Mali muscled out DR Congo to bag the second ticket available in the group.
Ghana announced their intentions early enough at Port Elizabeth, with Asamoah Gyan banging in the opener barely six minutes into the game. Christian Atsu made it two on 23 minutes, with John Boye completing the rout in the 48th minute. Matters were not made easy for the Nigeriens, who suffered from poor officiating, with what would have been their equaliser in the 22nd minute cancelled for a non-existent foul on the Ghanaian goalkeeper Fatawu Dauda.
Meanwhile in Durban Mali suffered an early scare when they conceded a 3rd minute penalty which Dieumerci Mbokani effectively utilised to put the Congolese ahead. However, it took only a short while for the Malians to cancel out the lead courtesy of a Mahamadou Samassa strike on 14 minutes.
Efforts by both sides to find the net again proved abortive – which favoured the Malians, who needed a draw to advance to the last eight.
Action moves to Group C tomorrow, with Nigeria confronting Ethiopia in a make or mar match while defending champions Zambia face the same prospects against table-topping Burkina Faso.
•Photo, courtesy MTN Football: Asamoah Gyan of Ghana celebrates his goal with teammate John Pantsil.
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