Sunday, October 24, 2021

Six super moments of AFCON 2017 knockout stage

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Ghana’s forward Jordan Ayew (Left) challenges Cameroon’s defender Michael Ngadeu-Ngadjui during their semi-final match in Franceville on Thursday. PHOTO: AFP

Sixty goals later, Egypt and Cameroon are the only two teams remaining to battle it out for the much coveted 2017 Africa Cup of Nations title.

Despite a number of their stars pulling out of the tournament, forcing them to bring a very young team to Gabon, the Indomitable Lions fairytale run continued as Hugo Broos led them to their first final since 2008.

The Indomitable Lions will see the match against Egypt as a chance for revenge: they were beaten 1-0 by the Pharaohs in the final of the 2008 Afcon in Ghana and could claim a fifth continental crown (and a first since 2002) tomorrow night.

From the Sadio Mane miss and the 44-year old goalkeeper, here are the Super Six moments from the knockout stages as compiled by the editors:

Fabrice Ondoa magic
If Fabrice Ondoa is to remain in the Sevilla reserves after the Afcon it will be a true act of injustice as the 21-year old single-handedly carried Cameroon to the final.

With the Indomitable Lions defence at sea, Ondoa denied Senegal a place into the semifinals when he saved Africa’s most expensive footballer, Sadio Mane, from the penalty spot. Prior to that, he had made some unbelievable saves to force the game into extra time then penalty shootouts.

The super goal
There are a number of goals one can think of in the Afcon knockout rounds, like the Mohammed Salah strike against Burkina Faso, but Aristide Bance’s goal in the same match was just classic.

The dexterity displayed by the lanky striker to bring down the cross before firing past goalkeeper was just unbelievable.

The fine wine El-Hadary
Wine matures with age like the fine Essam El-Hadary, yes you read that correctly. The Egyptian 44-year old goalkeeper has played a vital role in the Pharoahs reaching the final.

He pulled some brilliant acrobatics to deny Morocco in the quarterfinals then followed that performance with penalty saves to end Burkina Faso’s title hopes. Age is indeed just a number….

Horrendous miss
Football is indeed a beautiful game but it can be cruel as well, as Senegal forward Balde was to learn in their match against Cameroon.

The Lions of Teranga did everything possible to outwit the Indomitable Lions but the goalkeeper Fabrice Ondoa was having none of it, pulling some top drawer saves. On the stroke of fulltime, Senegal had a chance to win the match presented to Balde but he pulled his effort over the poles much to frustration of coach Aliou Cissé.

Unforgettable match
When the best match of the knockout rounds is mentioned, one can’t help but think of the Senegal v Cameroon nail-biter, but the Congo v Ghana match was even more exciting, as it produced four goals.

Fans were on the edge of their seats from start to finish as both teams came out to play. Ghana took the lead in the 63rd minute and Congo responded five minutes later with the equaliser. What made this game even more special was the Ayew brothers carrying the Black Stars to the next round the say their father used to back in the days.

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