AFCON 23: Blue Sharks Of Cape Verde Eat Up Stubborn Mauritania Raw In Lone Goal Victory

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By Eniola Olatunji 

Awaits winner of Senegal versus Ivory Coast match.

Captain Ryan Mendes of Cape Verde shot a perfect penalty at the Houphouet Boigny Stadium to cause the Blue Sharks to glide into the quarterfinals of the African Cup of Nations for the second time in the nation’s footballing career beating the Almoravids of Mauritania in a Round of 16 match by a lone goal.

Cover photo is Ryan Mendes action scoring the penalty.

Mauritanian Goalkeeper, Babacar Niasse who plays in Senegal made a collateral mistake to bring down a Cape Verdean in the box and the resultant penalty kick in the 88th minute earned him a yellow and a neat goal to send the stubborn Mauritanian crashing.

The Mauritanians were bionic especially in defence contesting every ball that you will wonder where their strength came from. It was obvious that their game plan was to take the match into penalty shootouts with their relentless defensive style.

The Mauritanians were not only as stubborn as an illiterate goat according to Nobel Lauret, Wole Soyinka but reminded us of the Almoravids who were in the midst of the Jews and known for Guerrilla wars for that was the tactic employed to raid the Cape Verdeans by the Almoravids of Mauritania.

It is amazing that the hard fighting Mauritanian did not get a single shot on target from 11 shots at goal and their opponent had 19 shots at goal with 4 on target sapping the Mauritanian Goalkeeper who reminds one of the Ghanaian Goalkeeper, Henry Car named Henry Cat for his diving ability. Henry Car was sweet to watch when he played for AyufSalam FC of Ilorin Kwara State of Nigeria.

Cape Verde was obviously the better side whose every move was blocked as they had 71-29 ball possession; stringed 462-199 passes showing the dominance was massive but the match was physical and volatile from the beginning to the end where we had 18-12 foul calls against Cape Verde resulting in 1-1 yellow cards but Cape Verde may need to upgrade as they are wasteful with set pieces in the 11-1 corner kicks.

Cape Verde awaits the winner of the match between Defending Champions, Teranga Lions and the wobbling Elephants of Ivory Coast coming up shortly.

Cape Verde is appearing for the 4th time but her best result was a quarterfinal at South Africa 2013 when Ghana dismissed her 2-0 at Port Elizabeth on 2nd February 2013.

Mauritania ranked 105 in the world, only appeared at the AFCON games twice in 1985 and 2021 and on both occasions were kicked out at the group stages.

On the two occasions the two teams met at the CHAN level, Mauritania won by the same margin of 2-1 each time on 28th July 2019 and on 4th August 2019.

The Blue Sharks of Cape Verde won Group B top post with 7 points coming up as the first team to qualify for the Round of 16 scoring 7 goals and conceding 3 to leave Egypt to be in group 2nd position while Ghana and Mozambique were sent packing. Cape Verde defeated Ghana 2-1; blasted Mozambique 3-0 and played 2-2 draw with Egypt at the group stages.

Vastly improving Mauritania emerged as lucky loser placing 3rd in Group D where Angola, Burkina Faso and almighty Algeria are. Mauritania garnered 3 points, scored 3 goals and conceded 4. Mauritania was once the least ranked in Africa at 206 but climbed to current 105.

The star match of today between wounded hosts Elephants of Ivory Coast and Teranga Lions of Senegal at Yamoussoukro comes up at 9pm.

The last set of Round of 16 matches is on Tuesday when Mali and neighbors Burkina Faso will slug it out at 6pm at Coulibaly Stadium and Morocco will lock horns with South Africa San Pedro Stadium at 9pm.

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