Ivory Coast top; lots for Mali, Guinea
Mali and Guinea face a long night as they await a rare drawing of lots to decide which team goes through to the African Cup of Nations quarterfinals.
A 1-1 draw between the teams in Mongomo on Wednesday left them tied in second place in Group D behind the Ivory Coast, who finished top after beating Cameroon 1-0 in Malabo.
Max Gradel’s first-half goal means the Ivorians will take on Algeria in the last eight in Malabo on Sunday.
But Group C winners Ghana are still awaiting the identity of the last team through from the group phase, who will be drawn at a ceremony in Malabo on Thursday.
“I’m tired so I think I’ll be able to sleep tonight and then wait for the draw tomorrow,” Guinea coach Michel Dussuyer told reporters.
“It’s hard for each team because no one deserves to go out of the tournament like that. Neither of us lost, we did very well in this tournament but this is now a reality we have to face. It will be disappointing to lose out like that,” he said of the draw at 5pm.
Only twice before has the tournament needed a draw to separate teams, in 1972 and 1988.
“It’s the regulations, we have no choice. But to go out in a draw would be difficult, they might need to look at that rule again,” Mali coach Henryk Kasperczak said.
Mali captain Seydou Keita had a penalty saved as both teams played out a third successive 1-1 draw and finished level on points, goal difference and goals scored in second place in the standings.
Kevin Constant’s 15th-minute penalty put Guinea ahead at halftime but Modibo Maiga equalised shortly after the break.
Two penalties were awarded inside the space of two minutes by referee Said Kordi of Tunisia early on in the game as Constant converted for Guinea but Keita hit a tame shot that Naby Yattara saved.
Maiga spared his captain’s blushes with a headed goal two minutes into the second half as he was unmarked at back post to convert a cross from Abdoulaye Diaby.
In Malabo, Gradel’s superb long-range strike sealed the Ivorian success as Cameroon were eliminated to add to their disappointing World Cup in Brazil last year.
The goal arrived 10 minutes before the break as Siaka Tiene played in Gradel and the midfielder blasted the ball home from 25 metres, finding the tightest of gaps between Ondoa and the left-hand post.
“I think we’ve shown all we need to win the competition. The most important thing is the sacrifice for the collective, if you come onto the pitch thinking that your name is everything, you will do nothing,” Ivory Coast coach Herve Renard said.