Guinea Bissau head coach Baciro Cande was delighted with the performance by his players as they stunned 987 in Abuja, beating them 1-0 in their Group A 2023 TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations qualifier.
Mama Samba Balde scored the solitary strike, Guinea Bissau making the most of their 31pc possession of the ball with a stunning victory over the Super Eagles infront of their home fans.
“We knew it was going to be a tough game and having watched them play in the previous matches, we knew they love scoring early to destabilize the opponents. We made sure we didn’t concede early and we scored a good goal and kept the lead. I am delighted with the players,” Cande said after the match.
The victory away from home saw the Djurtus scale top of the group with seven points, one ahead of Nigeria who lost their first match in the qualifiers. The two sides meet again next week.
Powered by their home fans in Abuja, Nigeria had started well and their best chance was in the 16th minute when Kelechi Iheanacho picked up Victor Osimhen with a brilliant through ball, but the lanky forward’s attempt to clip over the keeper was blocked.
The visitors broke the deadlock in the 29th minute, Balde picking a long ball behind the defense from Opa Sangante before sliding the ball past Francis Uzoho.
They should have doubled their advantage nine minutes from halftime when Fali Cande picked up Eucidalcio Gomes with a brilliant cross-field ball, but the latter hit the side netting despite sitting the keeper and a defender down.
In the second half, Nigeria threw in their all to battle to get back into the game but they were unsuccessful with Samuel Chukwueze coming close twice with curling shots while substitute Paul Onuachu had a header sail inches wide.
South Africa 2-2 Liberia
At the Orlando Stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa head coach Hugo Broos was left red faced as the Bafana Bafana dropped a two goal lead to draw 2-2 with Liberia. South Africa had numerous chances, but couldn’t take them and were punished by a hard fighting Liberia side.
“There is so much disappointment and anger in my body. If I should say now what I think, it might not be nice. Today is very difficult,” said the tactician, as he briefly summed up his feelings from a disappointing evening.
Lyle Foster’s first half double had given South Africa a comfortable cushion, but the Lone Stars of Liberia fought in the second half with substitute Mohamed Sangare scoring at the stroke of 90 minutes, after Tonia Tisdell’s freekick had brought them within reach.
Liberia’s head coach Ansumana Keita was delighted with the result.
“This is my first international game as head coach of Liberia and my first huge game against a big opponent. There were a lot of critics, but now the critics are backing us,” the tactician said after masterminding the comeback.
He added; “It was a tough game, South Africa are a good side and play good football, but the game is about 90 minutes We were here to compete and we competed. I told my players at halftime to keep calm, focused and just go. I am happy we got the result.”
Bafana had raced to a 2-0 lead within 22 minutes. Foster broke the deadlock after nine minutes from the penalty spot after Percy tau was brought down by the keeper inside the box.
The Burnley forward doubled the tally in the 22nd minute when he sneaked in a header at the near post from a Teboho Mokoena corner. South Africa had more chances with Bongokuhle Hlongwane hitting the outside of the post one on one with the keeper, before Tau also missed a sitter.
South Africa thought they had a third in the 52nd minute, but tau’s freekick was cancelled as he took it direct when the referee had put his hand up for an indirect freekick.
Having dodged the bullet, Liberia put in a fight and they halved the deficit in the 68th minute when Tisdell’s freekick curled in from the left foot trickled past two Bafana defenders and the keeper.
They kept the fight and were rewarded when Sangare struck a sublime shot from range, keeper Ronwen Williams completely beaten.
Both Liberia and South Africa are on one point from two matches and with Morocco already qualified in the three-team Group K, pressure is on Bafana to battle for the single remaining slot.
Côte d’Ivoire 3-1 Comoros
Elsewhere at the Stade De La Paix de Bouaké, hosts Côte d’Ivoire picked up a 3-1 victory over Comoros to move back top of Group H with seven points.
Sebastian Haller’s inspirational story continued, as he scored one of the three goals in his first international match since recovering from cancer. He scored a brilliant header in between Christian Kouame and Jean Philipe Krasso’s goals.
Les Elephants head coach Jean-Louis Gasset was impressed with the victory.
“We are a work in progress. When I came in, the confidence in the group was average. They are young players and they are growing. Today I was happy with the performance and happy to see an active team that kept working without the ball,” the tactician stated.
His opposite number Younes Zerdouk was gracious in defeat, but promised the team will fight in the return tie next week.
The score makes sense. The two halves are different. The first half we left possession to Ivory Coast because we wanted to counter-attack them. Afterwards we got trapped and we ran after the result.
“We were up against players whose level is very high and are experienced. But we learned a lot today. There are 12 points left in the group and there is everything to fight for especially in the next game when we play at home. We will fight to get a good result,” said the tactician.
Kiuame broke the deadlock after 29 minutes when Kouame raced to a through ball before sneaking it between the keeper’s legs. Before that, the Ivorians had two goals disallowed for offside.
They took the 1-0 lead to the break but Haller doubled their advantage on the hour mark with a glancing header off a Wilfried Singo cross. They made it 3-0 in the 89th minute with a brilliant goal. The keeper hit to Ghislan Konan out wide, the latter squaring for Krasso to finish off brilliantly inside the box.
Ibroihim Youssouf scored the consolation for Comoros in added time.
Elsewhere in another match, Cape Verde and Eswatini played to a 0-0 draw.