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15.11 Equatorial Guinea 1-0 Cameroon, Congo 1-0 Mali
16.11 Ghana 1-1 Nigeria, South Africa 2-1 Tunisia
In Group A, the hosts Equatorial Guinea scored the first shock of the tournament by beating 4th favourites Cameroon, who have previously been to 2 finals. Equatorial Guinea have been improving at a steady pace, and qualified for the last tournament also, gaining a draw and 2 defeats from their first 3 matches. They have attracted some criticism though for their fast-track naturalising of players from Nigeria and Cameroon, as well as Brazil, and were even accused by South Africa of fielding two MEN in their team recently.
Congo are another up and coming force in Africa, and this was their first ever match in the finals tournament. A victory against Mali was to be expected, but Mali did well after problems with flights almost forced them to miss the match.
Cameroon and Mali must try to focus on their remaining 2 matches if they are to avoid exiting at the group stage, while Equatorial Guinea and Congo go head to head on Tuesday, with the winners looking to all but seal their place in the semi-finals.
In Group B, Ghana came within 3 minutes of beating perennial champions Nigeria (who have won all previous African finals), but alas couldn't hold on to their lead, and had to settle for a 1-1 draw. It is perhaps a sign that Nigeria's dominance will be seriously threatened this year. South Africa had a narrow 2-1 win against the tournament's other debutantes, Tunisia, who have the misfortune of being placed in a group with 3 of the strongest (if not the 3 strongest) sides on the continent. At least it will give Tunisia much needed experience, and give them an idea of what they still have to do to get close to the top teams. I expect Ghana and Nigeria will be just too strong for South Africa, and will reach the semis.