- Riyad Mahrez hits brace as Algeria draw with Zimbabwe
- Mane and Mbodji strike as Senegal go top of Group B
- Dede Ayew finds the net as Ghana defeat Uganda and more…
The long wait has finally ended. It is the start of the 31st edition of the Africa Cup of Nations and it promises to be just as exciting as the previous editions. This showpiece brings to you 16 teams, 368 players and one crown to fight for. Which country will bring the trophy home on 5th February? Will we see a 15th different nation as winners of the biggest football competition in Africa? Let’s take you through the results in the first round of fixtures.
Gabon 1-1 Guinea Bissau
The tournament kicked off with a battle between hosts Gabon and tournament debutants Guinea Bissau. The score line was 1-1. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang opened the scoring for the Panthers from Denis Bouanga’s feed in the 52nd minute.
The Dortmund striker had another chance to score 17 minutes later but he put his effort over the bar.
Guinea Bissau slowly came back into the game and had a great chance to level matters in the 83rd minute but Frederic Mendy headed his effort straight into the Gabon goalkeeper’s hands.
The Djurtus then equalized through Juary Soares’ header in the 90th minute to deny the hosts a perfect start to the tournament. The result places Antonio Camacho’s men in 3rd place and the debutants take 4th place in the Group A standings.
Burkina Faso 1-1 Cameroon
The Indomitable Lions of Cameroon ended their first AFCON 2017 fixture against Burkina Faso with a 1-1 draw. Benjamin Moukandjo helped Cameroon to take the lead through an expertly taken free kick in the 35th minute.
Cameroon almost made it two with their next best chance falling to Clinton N’Jie who placed his shot wide from close range. The Stallions then found an equalizer through Issoufou Dayo in the 75th minute.
The goalkeeper of Cameroon parried a free kick and Dayo was at the right place at the right time to head the ball in.
Both sides had chances to kill the game off but ultimately could not find the back of the net. Burkina Faso is now in first place in the Group A standings and The Indomitable Lions find themselves in 2nd place.
Algeria 2-2 Zimbabwe
The star studded Algerian side played their first AFCON 2017 encounter against Zimbabwe. The Algerians found the Warriors tough to beat as the match ended in a 2-2 draw.
African Best Player of the Year Riyad Mahrez got things going for “El Khadra” (The Greens) with his effort going in off the post in the 12th minute.
Zimbabwe equalized just five minutes later through Kudakwashe Mahachi’s low strike. Nyasha Mushekwi gave the Warriors a surprising lead from the penalty spot in the 29th minute.
Zimbabwe failed to cause a major upset in the end as Riyad Mahrez released a 25 yard shot to end the match with points shared between the two sides. Algeria are now in 2nd place in Group B and Zimbabwe takes 3rd place.
Tunisia 0-2 Senegal
Aliou Cisse’s team capitalized on the poor finishing of Tunisia to record a fairly comfortable 2-0 victory over the Eagles of Carthage in their first group encounter.
Liverpool star Sadio Mane scored the opening goal from the penalty spot in the 10th minute after Cheikhou Kouyate was fouled in the box.
Kara Mbodji doubled the advantage for the Lions of Teranga, heading in a corner in the 30th minute. The Tunisians had chance after chance to come back into the game but it turned out to be a bad outing for them as their finishing ultimately let them down.
Youssef Msakni in particular managed to miss a two yard sitter. Senegal will be happy with the result as they now lead the pack in Group B. Tunisia however will hope to turn their fortunes around soon as they place 4th on the table in Group B.
Ivory Coast 0-0 Togo
The defending champions Ivory Coast started their AFCON 2017 adventure with a disappointing goalless draw with the Sparrow Hawks of Togo.
The Elephants as expected had the most possession in the game from start to finish but found a goal very hard to come by. Serge Aurier wasted a clear-cut chance by heading the ball wide of the goal after being left unmarked.
Wilfried Zaha sent his effort over the bar later on in the game and also saw one of his efforts blocked by the opposition defense. Togo also had their opportunities. Ivory Cost goalkeeper Sylvain Gbohouo had to rush out to keep the match scoreless.
Ivory Coast are now in 2nd place on the table and the Sparrow Hawks find themselves in 3rd place in Group C.
DR Congo 1-0 Morocco
DR Congo caused a major upset in their first game, beating Morocco by a goal to nil. The encounter was filled with the dominance of Herve Renard’s men. The first sign of danger for the Leopards was when Mbar Boussoufa saw his shot rattle the woodwork.
Olympiacos defender Manuel De Costa also saw his effort fail to hit the target. The Leopards were still on the back foot until Junior Kabananga gave DR Congo a surprise lead in the 55th minute.
The task of containing the pressure of Renard’s men became even more daunting as Joyce Lomalisa Mutambala was sent to have an early shower after picking up two yellow cards in the space of 8 minutes.
They managed to hold on to secure the result in the end. DR Congo now lead their opponents in Group C and Morocco take the bottom spot in that group.
Ghana 1-0 Uganda
The Black Stars started their tournament adventure on a good note with a 1-0 win over Uganda. Andre Dede Ayew was the hero of the game, scoring from the penalty spot in the 32nd minute after Asamoah Gyan was brought down by Isaac Isinde.
Ghana had more chances to score with Asamoah Gyan missing two headed chances. Christian Atsu also had the opportunity to test Denis Onyango from close range.
Uganda’s best chance fell to Farouk Miya who could only hit the outside of the post. The result helps Ghana to top the group and Uganda move down to 4th place in Group D.
Mali 0-0 Egypt
Seven time winners Egypt began their outing in the 2017 AFCON tournament with a 0-0 draw when they faced Mali. The Pharaohs had the lion’s share of possession in the game but ultimately failed to find the net.
Mohammed Elneny had two good chances to score for Egypt but ended up placing one over the bar and hitting the other attempt wide.
Mali’s best chance of the game fell to Osmane Coulibaly who managed to head his effort over the bar. The encounter played host to the oldest player to ever feature in an AFCON tournament, Essam El-Hadary.
Egypt now place 2nd on the table, 2 points behind Ghana and Mali take the 3rd spot in the standings.