Africa: 2012 Cup of Nations Delivers Many Surprises

Unlike Senegal, who failed to win their opening match in the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations, Ghana, another competition favourite, managed to win their opener, beating Botswana, who were participating in this tournament for the first time. This, the first match in Group D, took place on Tuesday 24 January in the Stade de Franceville, Gabon.

The Black Stars of Ghana finished the match with ten men following a red card for John Mensah in the 66th minute. They did all they could to win [fr], and were not phased, according to FourFourTwo, who tweeted:

#Ghana show no remorse over Mensah red #AFCON2012

Botswana fought bravely during their first ever appearance in the Africa Cup of Nations. A video summary of the Ghana-Botswana match is available here [fr], courtesy of Direct 8 Sport.

Mali met Guinea for the other opening day Group D game, which saw the Eagles off to a promising start in the tournament, beating Guinea 1-0. Boukary Konaté, a Global Voices author who tweets under the name @Fasokan [fr], posted reactions from the stadium in Macina, Mali:

@Fasokan: Grand bruit et applaudissement à Macina pour le but malien #can2012

@Fasokan: Loud noise and applause from Macina following Mali's goal.

and also [fr]:

@Fasokan: les supporters de Macina espèrent sur un deuxième but malien

@Fasokan: Fans from Macina are hoping for a second goal from Mali.

On Wednesday 25, the first match on Day 2 of Group A, Zambia versus Libya, resulted in the first nil-nil draw of the competition. Torrential rain caused kick-off to be delayed by an hour and a quarter with the match finally starting at 6.15pm, after some doubt as to whether it would go ahead.

Zambia were anxious to secure their place in the quarter finals against a Libyan team who seemed re-energised following their defeat on the opening Saturday of the tournament. The match was played on a waterlogged pitch, as can be seen in this photo posted by Alexandre Nakbi (@Alex_Nak), showing its condition moments before kick off [fr]:

@Alex_Nak: Voila l'état du terrain actuellement. #CAN2012 #Libye #Zambie

@Alex_Nak: Here is the state of the pitch right now. #CAN2012 #Libye #Zambie

Rain also delayed the Day 2 Group A match between Senegal and Equatorial Guinea. Tournament favourites Senegal were eliminated in a surprise 2-1 win for Equatorial Guinea, assuring a place for the latter in the quarter finals. The defeat of the Lions of Teranga greatly disappointed [fr] their fans:

@observateurs: Le Sénégal sort de la CAN. “On aurait dit des jeunes de centre de formation” #can2012

@observateurs: Senegal exit the Cup of Nations. “They looked like kids from a training camp” #can2012

@founseni_soro: Sénégal Grande nation de football, . mais aussi grande déception de la CAN2012. Allez les zelephants #civ2010

@founseni_soro: Senegal – a great footballing nation, but great disappointment in the 2012 Cup of Nations.

In Day 2 of Group B, Angola could not overcome Sudan, one of the weakest teams in the Cup, despite two goals from Manuchi on Thursday 26 January in Malabo Stadium, Equatorial Guinea. If they had won, Angola would have qualified for the quarter finals. The four goals from the match can be seen in the following video [fr]:

Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso met at Malabo later that day for the second match in Day 2 of Group B. The Elephants of Ivory Coast beat the Stallions 2-0, qualifying for the quarter finals while Burkina Faso were eliminated.

Fans of Ivory Coast watching the match against Sudan by @FlorianK_Sport

Fans of Ivory Coast watching the match against Sudan by @FlorianK_Sport

Day 2 of Group C on the Friday saw Gabon beat Morocco 3-2 and Tunisia beat Nigeria 2-1, securing quarter final places for the Panthers of Gabon and the Eagles of Carthage.

The 2012 Africa Cup of Nations can be followed on the BBC website and on Twitter using the hashtags #CAN2012 and #AFCON2012.

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