AFCON 2023: Egypt slump out of with shootout defeat to DR Congo as Nigeria flex muscles

Egypt’s forgettable Africa Cup of Nations campaign came to an end on Sunday night after being eliminated in a penalty shootout by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, while Guinea and Nigeria both advanced to the quarter-finals.

One of the pre-tournament favourites to lift the trophy, Egypt left the Ivory Coast without a win in four games after captain and star player Mohamed Salah sustained an injury that saw him leave the squad early.

The Pharaohs’ exit came in an 8-7 penalty shootout defeat to DR Congo after the tie ended 1-1 at the end of extra time.

Meschack Elia put DR Congo ahead in the coastal city of San-Pedro in the 37th minute, only for Mostafa Mohamed to equalise for Egypt from the penalty spot in first-half stoppage time.

With no further scoring, Egypt held on for a shootout after Mohamed Hamdy was sent off for a second booking in the first half of extra time.

They were involved in three shootouts in four knockout ties at the last Afcon in Cameroon two years ago, when they lost the final on penalties to Senegal.

Mohamed missed the target with the Pharaohs’ second kick, but Arthur Masuaku then squandered the Leopards’ next attempt.

Goalkeeper Mohamed Abou Gabal, better known simply as Gabaski, then put Egypt’s ninth penalty over, and Congolese stopper Lionel Mpasi made no mistake to take DR Congo through to the quarter-finals.

It is a bitter pill to swallow for the Pharaohs, who had come to the Ivory Coast hoping to win a first Afcon title since 2010, a year before Salah made his senior international debut.

But they stumbled out of their group with three draws after losing the Liverpool superstar to a hamstring injury in their second game against Ghana.

He had gone back to his club to receive treatment, in the hope of being able to return for the latter stages of the competition, but now his dream of winning the title with his country is back on hold.

Guinea seal dramatic win

Sebastien Desabre’s team will head to Abidjan for a quarter-final on Friday against Guinea, who beat Equatorial Guinea 1-0 earlier with a dramatic winner by Mohamed Bayo in the eighth minute of injury time.

The match at the Ebimpe Olympic Stadium was heading for extra time when Bayo, of French side Le Havre, headed in a cross by Ibrahim Diakite to spark frenzied celebrations among the Guinea team and their large support in a crowd of 36,340.

It was a historic moment for the Guinea, who had never previously won an Afcon knockout tie – they were runners-up in 1976, in an era when the final four played a round-robin format to decide the winner of the trophy.

Lookman guides Nigeria past Cameroon

Atalanta’s Ademola Lookman scored both goals as Nigeria defeated old rivals Cameroon 2-0 to march into the quarter-finals.

Nigeria had an early Semi Ajayi goal disallowed after a VAR review in the round of 16 clash, before star man Victor Osimhen’s constant pressing and bullying of the Cameroonian defence led to Lookman finding the net in the 36th minute.

The Nigerian defence, which has been impenetrable at this Afcon, kept Cameroon at bay for the rest of the game, before Lookman made sure of the victory in the 90th minute in front of 22,085 fans at the Felix Houphouet Boigny Stadium in Abidjan.

Nigeria will return to the venue next Friday for a quarter-final meeting with Angola.

“It was a big performance from the team, we fought well from the first minute to the 100th minute,” said Lookman.

With the fearsome Osimhen leading from the front, the Super Eagles are a serious threat to reigning champions Senegal as they chase a fourth continental crown.

“I am very happy with my boys. I think our team did a very good job against a very good team. We deserved to win,” Nigeria coach Jose Peseiro said.


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