Pi­queti, Asamoah, Mathlouthi light up Match­day 2

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT -

The sec­ond round of matches saw Senegal and Ghana book their places in the last eight while Uganda be­came the first na­tion to be elim­i­nated from this year’s Africa Cup of Na­tions. Njab­ulo Ngidi, who was in Libreville and Port-Gen­til, picks his best mo­ments from a round that pro­duced plenty of thrills and spills for the play­ers and fans alike.

Best Goal

The colour­ful mid­fielder with a touch of blonde in his mainly black hair an­nounced him­self to the con­ti­nent in style with a bril­liant in­di­vid­ual goal. The Guinea-Bis­sauan started the move from his own half, lobbed Collins Fai, forced his way past Ge­orges Mand­jeck be­fore twist­ing and turn­ing Michael Ngadeu-Ngad­jui. Pi­queti’s pace car­ried him away from de­fend­ers be­fore he sweetly struck the ball to give the min­nows the lead against Cameroon.

Best Save

Tu­nisia’s goal­keeper Ay­men Mathlouthi was just warm­ing up with his ac­ro­batic save to deny Is­lam Sli­man’s well­taken free-kick. Mathlouthi pulled off a spec­tac­u­lar save to deny the Al­ge­rian’s header from a goal-bound ef­fort. Ramy Bense­bani flicked a cor­ner to an un­marked Sli­man in the small box with only the goal­keeper to beat. Tu­nisia’s cap­tain pro­duced a point-blank save with his quick re­flexes in a match that the Carthage Ea­gles won 2-1.

Best Cel­e­bra­tion

Asamoah Gyan, who also has a mu­sic ca­reer, is a born en­ter­tainer. His dance moves are fa­mous across the con­ti­nent be­cause he flashes them af­ter ev­ery goal he scores. He got an­other chance to do that in Port-Gen­til af­ter scor­ing his eighth goal in the tour­na­ment’s his­tory. Gyan as­sem­bled his team­mates to form a line, they whipped out their right arms and bounced for­ward as if they were rid­ing a horse go­ing through waves. That goal saw Ghana ride into the last eight of the Af­con.

Best Match

The North African derby, be­tween Tu­nisia and Al­ge­ria, was an en­ter­tain­ing and tense spectacle. But Ghana’s clash with Mali was the stand­out match of Match­Day 2. It had ev­ery­thing, con­tro­versy, qual­ity play­ers and drama. The two teams couldn’t train on the Stade de Port-Gen­til pitch be­cause they were pre­serv­ing it for the match. They used an in-door ar­ti­fi­cial pitch. Once they entered the pitch, it took a beat­ing as these two na­tions played with a place in the last eight up for grabs. Some­how they man­aged to en­sure that the poor pitch didn’t rob the fans of an en­ter­tain­ing match.

Mem­o­rable Mo­ment

The Ghana­ians an­i­mat­edly cel­e­brated their pas­sage to the last eight with a game to spare af­ter their 1-0 win over Mali. But in those cel­e­bra­tions, their squad was miss­ing Baba Ab­dul-Rah­man who was forced to re­turn to Germany for med­i­cal as­sess­ments af­ter he tore his ACL. The Black Stars showed their ap­pre­ci­a­tion of the Schalke de­fender by ded­i­cat­ing the win to him and flash­ing t-shirts writ­ten, “GET WELL BABA”.

Best Crowd

The Mali fans once again take this hon­our. They are a plea­sure to watch with their colour­ful at­tire, drums and vo­cal sup­port. There is a large con­tin­gency of Malians who re­side in Gabon. It feels like they all cram into Stade de Port-Gen­til when­ever the Ea­gles are in town. They were more spec­tac­u­lar in their match against Ghana. The poor state of the pitch forced the play­ers to warm up in-doors in an ef­fort to pre­serve the pitch. That means the fans had to wait un­til the match started to see their play­ers. The Mali fans sang loudly as they waited, beat­ing their drums in uni­son. They are an act that puts the home fans to shame.

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