Senegal became the first high-profile team to crash out of the ongoing 2012 Africa Cup of Nations after suffering their second defeat in the group stages.
The pre-tournament favourites, stinking rich with talents within their ranks, suffered a 2-1 humbling at the hands of minnows and co-hosts Equatorial Guinea Thursday night.
David Alvarez Aguirre, better known as Kily, was the hosts’ hero as he belted in a screamer in injury time that sent the Teranga Lions packing and gave the Nzalang Nacional the ticket to the quarterfinals in only their maiden Africa Nations Cup appearance.
Senegal went into the match knowing that anything less than a win would bury their chances of qualifying for the quarters for the first time since 2004 in a picnic basket. A heavy downpour prior to the match did not make matters easy for the Senegalese.
They used their pace, grit and dexterity earlier on in the first half but could not put the ball behind Danilo Clementino in the Equatorial Guinea goal.
The game was more opened up in the second half as the Nzalang Nacional came out fighting backed by a rapturous crowd. The home team took the lead just after the hour mark when Alvarez raced down the right wing and curled in a cross that found Iyanga who headed in to put the Senegalese on the brink.
Knowing they were facing the ignominy of elimination, Amara Traore’s side threw everything at their unfancied opponents but could not breach their backline. They had to wait until the 90th minute when Mousa Sow drew them level with a close range finish from a Mamadou Niang cross.
The goal gave the 2002 World Cup quarterfinalists a lifeline. Alvarez, however, decided to have the final say, the sting in the tail that the West Africans could have traded for something else. He picked up the ball from around 30 yards and like a possessed man, he rifled in a long range effort that flew its way into the top corner past Bouna Coundoul in the Teranga Lions’ goal.
The goal was worth all manner of celebration for the hosts. The defeat means that Newcastle United will have their Demba pair, Demba Ba and Papiss Demba Cisse back earlier than expected. However, it might also work against the Magpies as Premier League clubs Liverpool and Tottenham may be more keen to snap up Demba Ba who has scored 15 goals for the Tyneside club.
The Lions will play their final group match against Libya on Sunday January 29 but that will just be a formality. Libya, who drew 2-2 with Zambia the earlier kick-off will have to win the match and hope that Zambia lose to Equatorial Guinea for them to have a chance of qualifying for the quarters.
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