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10 Dec 2018
Egypt and Nigeria make it to the semis
As hosts Egypt and Nigeria make the next round Tanzania and Côte d’Ivoire are out
The third day of group matches in the CAF Beach Soccer Africa Cup of Nations 2018 in Egypt saw the two first places in the next round confirmed.
Hosts Egypt saw off Madagascar by four goals to two, and Nigeria won by the same scoreline against a stubborn Tanzanian side.
Day three’s action kicked off when Morocco kept their hopes of making it to the FIFA World Cup in Paraguay alive by fending off a late comeback by Côte d’Ivoire.
Morocco 5-4 Côte d’Ivoire
Neither of these sides had won in their opening matches and therefore went into today’s game in desperate need of points if they wanted to keep any hope of passage to the next round alive.
It was Côte d’Ivoire who would concede the first, very much like they had done the previous day. With just seconds gone, Nassim drove in a well-hit freekick to give Morocco an early lead.
But Jean Soro Lohognon’s men were unfazed by this early blow and kept up their attacking play. Aka sent a warning shot from distance which had to be palmed over the bar, and then managed to get on the end of a low cross to poke home an equaliser. The scores level once more, it was clear victory would not be easily won in this match.
After the first whistle blew with the scores tied, the second period began with nothing clear separating the teams. The difference came in the form of a blast from the Moroccan keeper, Abada, who’s shot took a generous deflection to give the men in red the lead.
Then, the captain Nassim grabbed his second, taking the score to 3-1 and this sudden burst of activity meant that the Ivorians were in danger of being left behind by this prolific Morocco side. Soon after, the captain struck again, as Nassim found himself enough space on the half way line to get a powerful shot away, completing his hat-trick.
With just one period left to turn things around, Côte d’Ivoire were facing an early exit from the Africa Cup of Nations. However, the task became an even bigger one when Iazal held off his defender to chip the ball into the top corner, making it five to Morocco.
Number ten, Kablan dragged one back for Côte d’Ivoire by diving on the end of a rebounded save, cutting the score to 5-2, but time was fast running out. They should have had another soon after when Aka had the chance to grab a second with a near-post header, but put it wide.
With just a minute remaining, Kablan scored again, this time from the penalty spot and then, with just seconds to go, the number ten completed a hat-trick! With the scores nail-bitingly close at 5-4, the final whistle cruelly ended the game before the defiant Ivorians could finish their comeback.
They will play hosts Egypt tomorrow but are unable to qualify for the next round. Morocco are still in with a chance and will play Madagascar on Tuesday.
Goals: 1-0: Nassim, min. 11 (1); 1-1: Aka, min. 8 (1); 2-1: Abada, min. 9 (2); 3-1: Nassim, min. 8 (2); 4-1: Nassim, min. 3 (2); 5-1: Iazal, min. 8 (3); 5-2: Kablan, min. 5 (3); 5-3: Kablan, min. 1 (3); 5-4: Kablan, min. 0 (3);
Madagascar 2-4 Egypt
After winning their opening game, and with the local crowd behind them, Egypt were confident going into today’s match-up against previous winners, Madagascar. A win in this game would mean going top of Group A for either of these teams, as Madagascar had also won their first match.
But Egypt seemed to dominate from the kick-off, and after just one minute the captain Samir put away a penalty to snatch an early lead.
Just minutes later, Mohamed turned in a corner to double the lead. At 0-2 so early on in the tie, the spectators were out of their seats with excitement. They were silenced, if only momentarily, by a fine strike from the Madagascan number seven, Fitana, who set himself up to volley home and cut the deficit in half.
With a minute remaining, Regis nodded in from close range to equalise, but the Egyptians weren’t finished yet… Looking particularly vulnerable from corners, the Madagascan defence allowed Moustafa Aly to slip unmarked to the back post and head in a goal just before the first break.
The second period began at 2-3, with the hosts enjoying a slender lead which they did well to hold onto as the former champs built up the pressure. The period drew on and suddenly Elshahat struck, to reinstall a two-goal advantage for Egypt.
With this buffer between them and their rivals, Egypt began to play with more confidence and created more chances, forcing the Madagascans to defend to make sure that the period finished at just 2-4.
The third period saw a frantic Madagascan side do their best to break through the defensive ranks of their hosts, but try as they might, they just couldn’t find the back of the net and as the final whistle blew, the spectators cheered in the stands for their local heroes.
Egypt go top of the group with six points and seal their spot in the next round, whereas Madagascar will play Morocco tomorrow to battle for that last spot in Group A.
Goals: 0-1: Samir, min. 11 (1); 0-2: Mohamed, min. 9 (1); 1-2: Fitana, min. 7 (1); 2-2: Regis, min. 1 (1); 2-3: Moustafa Aly, min. 0 (1); 2-4: A. Elshahat, min. 2 (2);
Nigeria 4-2 Tanzania
The previous edition’s runners-up, Nigeria, had lost to their old rivals, Senegal, on the first day but had since picked up three points against Libya. If they wanted to progress in the competition, a win today against a Tanzanian side who were already out having lost their first two games, was crucial.
Nigeria struck first, and it was their prolific number eight, Azeez Abu, who opened the scoring with a spinning volley. However, Boniface Pawassa’s Tanzanians were not to be ruled out yet, as they sent a rocket rattling against the post directly from the restart.
Nigeria pressed to extend their early advantage, but Kaseja was in inspired form between the Tanzanians posts, keeping out shot after shot in a barrage of attacks. In the dying seconds of the opening period, Tumbo won and converted a levelling freekick, and the teams went into the break all square.
The debutants were here to upset the African giants’ plans of repeating their 2007 and 2009 success, and they began the second period as they ended the first: on the attack! However, Pawassa’s men just couldn’t find the finishing touches and the score stayed at one apiece.
Until, that is, Nigeria seemed to find an extra gear and went ahead once more when Ohwoferia scored a delightful volley from a teammate’s chest down. Already in the lead, Ujukwu was awarded a freekick and gave Kaseja no chance, despite the stellar performance the Tanzanian number one had put in. Jaruph pulled the score back to 3-2, side-footing the ball into an open net, and with most of the final period left, Tanzania were just one goal behind.
But when Taiwo drove a low shot into the net, the plucky Tanzanians had it all to do again, and this time the clock was against them. With just minutes left the Nigerians held off their opponents effectively, seeing the game out and claiming all three points and go top of Group B.
Tanzania are guaranteed a fourth-place finish, but as Senegal and Libya play tomorrow, Nigeria will have to wait and see what the final standings of Group B will be.
Goals: 1-0: Abu, min. 7 (1); 1-1: Tumbo, min. 0 (1); 2-1: Ohwoferia, min. 3 (2); 3-1: Ujukwu, min. 2 (2); 3-2: Jaruph, min. 10 (3); 4-2: Taiwo, min. 4 (3);
Stay up to date with the results, fixtures and standing of the CAF Beach Soccer Africa Cup of Nations here.