Africa Cup of Nations: Five things we learned on Day 18

"Can I get a sub on ref?" Alain Giresse's replacements were game changers in the last 16 clash against Ghana.
"Can I get a sub on ref?" Alain Giresse's replacements were game changers in the last 16 clash against Ghana. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

Tunisia boss Alain Giresse plays mind games at the death of his team's clash with Ghana and Mali lose the plot.


Shooting stars

To rehash an adage or two, it is a truth universally acknowledged that pride becomes before a fall. And so it came to pass. The confident prediction of Ghana skipper André Ayew that his side would beat Tunisia in their last 16 clash in Ismailia ended in tears. The Tunisians won a penalty shoot-out to advance to a quarter-final against tournament debutants Madagascar. Where was the captain in the hour of need? Substituted.

Tunisian complex

Alain Giresse, the Tunisia manager, is fabled in France for being part of international midfield formation dubbed “le carré magique”. Along with Michel Platini, Jean Tigana and Luis Fernandez, they redefined ball movement under the aegis of coach Michel Hidalgo. The careers of the men has also been storied. Giresse has had quite a few coaching jobs over the years with varying degrees of success. But he played a blinder against Ghana. In the dying seconds of regulation time, he brought on Rami Bedoui for Taha Khenissi. A minute later Bedoui headed a free-kick past goalkeeper Mouez Hassen and into his own net for Ghana’s equaliser. In the embers of extra-time, Giresse brought on Farouk Ben Mustapha for Hassen. A couple of minutes later, Mustapha saved a penalty in the 5-4 win.

Waiting in vain

Tunisia won their one and only Cup of Nations title in 2004. They have a chance to redeem that following their qualification for the last eight at Ghana’s expense. And what now for the Black Stars? Trophyless since 1982, there will certainly be a rethink especially up front where record goalscorer Asamoah Gyan said after the match that 2019 was likely to be his last Africa Cup of Nations. Given that he didn't score, there's unlikely to be a conversation with the president urging him to reconsider.

Line in the sand

Sébastien Desabre took Uganda into the knockout stages at the Cup of Nations for the first time since 1978. They lost their last 16 match to Senegal who will take on Benin in the last eight on Day 20. Desabre, 42, will spend a bit more time in Egypt as he has taken over as coach of Pyramids FC.

Get your kicks on Route 1

Mali will be kicking themselves after failing to kick Cote d’Ivoire out of the tournament. They were all over Ibrahim Kamara’s men in the last 16 game in Suez. But they spurned and fluffed and squandered the chances to go over the hills and far away. 0-0 at half-time. In the second half, the Ivorian goalkeeper Sylvain Gbohouo banged the ball upfield, the big centre forward Jonathan Kodjia headed it on and Wilfred Zaha walloped it into the net. 1-0. Quarter-final.





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