AFCON 2021-22: Morocco reaches last 16, Ghana hopes in peril

Morocco books a place in the last 16 of the Africa Cup of Nations with a 2-0 win over Comoros Islands; Gabon holds Ghana.

Zakaria Aboukhlal celebrates scoring Morocco’s second goal.   -  REUTERS

Morocco booked a place in the last 16 of the Africa Cup of Nations while Gabon, Guinea and Senegal are also likely through but four-time champion Ghana is in danger of early elimination after Friday’s four matches at the tournament in Cameroon.

Morocco beat the Comoros Islands 2-0 for a second win and top place in Group C on six points followed by Gabon on four after it scored a late equaliser to hold Ghana 1-1 in the second game played in Yaounde. Jim Allevinah’s 88th minute strike is almost sure to see Gabon through, if not as one of the top two in the group then as one of the four best third-placed finishers in the six groups.

But Ghana is in danger on one point and must beat Comoros in its final group game in Garoua on Tuesday to stand any chance of advancing as it seeks its first title in 40 years.

The match ended in an unsavoury punch-up after being littered with niggling fouls with Ghana’s Benjamin Tetteh sent off for a wild punch thrown in the post-match fracas.

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Gabon’s point was wildly celebrated by its camp and made even sweeter by the Confederation of African Football’s (CAF) refusal before the match to let its captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang take part, even though he was training on the eve of the clash after being released from COVID-19 quarantine.

 

“According to the CAF medical commission, the players Pierre Emerick Aubameyang, Axel Meye and Mario Lemina, barely out of COVID isolation, cannot take part in this match. Medical examinations show cardiac lesions and CAF did not want to take any risks,” the Gabon Football Federation tweeted.

GUEYE SUSPENDED

Earlier in Bafoussam, Guinea and Senegal played out a 0-0 draw to stay neck-and-neck at the top of Group B on four points. Senegal coach Aliou Cisse said afterwards he had to remove midfielder Papa Gueye from the starting line-up on FIFA orders.

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“Pape Gueye had an administrative problem just before the match kicked off. Five minutes before, we were notified that FIFA suspended him over a transfer between his club, Marseille, and Watford,” Cisse told reporters.

“His lawyer informed us this morning around 11 am, but just before the meeting we had the confirmation. That’s why we removed him from the match sheet.”

Senegal was already without 10 players in COVID-19 isolation and its depleted resources showed in an underwhelming performance. Frank Mhango scored twice as Malawi came from behind to beat Zimbabwe 2-1 in the other Group B game and also put itself in line for a place in the last 16.

On Saturday, Nigeria takes on Sudan and Egypt faces Guinea Bissau in Group D in Garoua.

The results

1. Morocco 2-0 Comoros Islands

2. Gabon 1-1 Ghana

3. Guinea 0-0 Senegal

4. Malawi 2-1 Zimbabwe

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