Football Features

Afcon action you may have missed as Angola make ‘miss of the tournament’ and Cameroon take control

By CJ Smith

Published: 17:20, 29 June 2019 | Updated: 13:32, 2 July 2019

Mauritania and Angola played out a cagey 0-0 draw in Suez which leaves the fate of every team in Group E still hanging in the balance.

Chances were few and far between and with both sides seemingly terrified of losing, that fear stopped any kind of quality developing throughout the match.

Later in the day, a clash between two African giant saw Cameroon and Ghana also play out a stalemate, with the tie not quite living up to its pre-match billing given the amount of quality in the two squads.

But as ever with football, there was still plenty to learn from the match and here are five things.

1. Down to the wire

After two games of a four-team group stage, you usually tend to have a good idea of who will go through to the knockout rounds and who will be going home. It’s safe to say Group E is still about as clear as mud.

This 0-0 draw leaves Mali top of the group with four points but behind them, Angola and Tunisia each have two points, while Mauritania have one.

With Angola and Mauritania each having just one goal each at the tournament so far, it’s hard to envisage them both pulling off shock results against Group E’s big guns but Afcon 2019 has already provided its fair share of shocks so far, so don’t rule it out.

2. A tournament first

With South Africa leaving it late against Namibia on Friday, adding to a host of 1-0 wins, we’ve come really, really close to having a total shut-out at Afcon 2019 without seeing a 0-0 – until now.

Right from the start, Mauritania vs Angola felt like it had the makings for a scoreless draw, with both sides struggling to fashion any real chances on goal. The two teams mustered just 68% and 74% pass completion rates, respectively, and quality was at a premium.

Gelson Djala was the standout attacker on the pitch, with the Sporting Lisbon man teeing up two good chances for his Angolan teammates – the second one especially was an awful miss in front of an own goal from Wilson Eduardo. Geraldo’s final-minute goal was correctly ruled out for offside and in all honesty, the defeat would have been cruel on Mauritania.

Corentin Martins’ side, meanwhile, managed just one clear-cut chance themselves, with Adama Ba seeing his effort stopped by a wonderful block from Angola right-back, Bruno Gaspar.

These blunt attacks will need sharpening if they’re to cause problems for Mali and Tunisia in the final group games.

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3. Miss of the tournament

That aforementioned miss from Eduardo may prove to be costly for Angola once Group E is done and dusted but on a personal note, the 28-year-old Braga forward may well walk away from Afcon 2019 with the miss of the tournament.

Djala had done brilliantly to get himself to the byline before squaring the ball across goal. All the onrushing Eduardo had to do was keep his cool and poke into an empty net from just a few yards at but somehow, he managed to slide in and swipe the ball wide.

He was left with his head in his hands and, as always, Twitter showed absolutely no mercy.

Eduardo’s cause wasn’t helped by blazing a header over the bar in the final five minutes in what was a terrible day at the office for the Angolan.

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4. Cameroon take control

Cameroon v Ghana may not have been the blockbuster clash it was billed as pre-game, but the 0-0 draw – the second of the day – was certainly valuable for the Indomitable Lions who are all but certain to win Group F.

Coupled with their hard-earned win over Guinea-Bissau in their opening game, this point leaves Cameroon on four from two games, three above third-placed Benin and two ahead of Ghana in second.

There is still a chance Cameroon could lose their final group game against Benin, leaving qualification out of their hands as they await to see if they go through as one the best third-placed teams. However, with the likes of Andre Onana and Clinton N’Jie among their ranks, Clarence Seedorf’s men will face up to Benin as huge favourites.

Ghana, meanwhile, cannot afford any slip-ups against Guinea-Bissau in their final game, although the Black Stars should have plenty of quality in the tank to overcome their next opponents.

5. Injury blow for Ghana

Christian Atsu had a pretty wretched time during Ghana’s opening 2-2 draw with Benin but, even so, the Newcastle United man remains one of their most valuable attackers.

But the Black Stars will now have to do without the 27-year-old after he left the field early on against Cameroon in very innocuous circumstances.

Receiving the ball from Andre Ayew, Atsu lined one up and fizzed a shot just wide of Onana’s post from 25 yards out. It seemed nothing more than a routine effort from a forward getting his aim.

Atsu, however, immediately went down clutching his leg and was forced off with what appeared to be a hamstring injury. In the heat of an Africa Cup of Nations – both literally and metaphorically – the last thing any side needs is an injury to a forward so early in the tournament.

6. Fine margins

Even though they’re massive favourites to beat Guinea-Bissau and head through to the Afcon 2019 knockout rounds, Ghana came so close to snatching a win right at the end against Cameroon.

Defender Andy Yiadom played a slack pass across his back four in the final few minutes of normal time and Ghana substitute Owusu Kwabena found himself charging toward Onana’s goal.

The Leganes forward lashed a thunderbolt that seemed destined to sneak under the crossbar but dipped just too late, striking the woodwork and going over the bar.

Had the goal gone in, it probably would have been a harsh defeat for Cameroon, with neither side really taking the initiative. However, things now remain in the balance in Group F heading into the final game.