Africa Cup of Nations: Five things we learned on Day 16

·2 min read

Contrasting fortunes for the minnows in the last-16. Gambia were hit by food poisoning but won and Comoros were taken down by the coronavirus and lost.

Beginner's luck and misfortune

A high and a low respectively for the tournament debutants Gambia and Comoros. Gambia won 1-0 against Guinea following a rugged contest in Bafoussam. Comoros lost 2-1 to Cameroon. But they were impressive for not folding after having skipper Nadjim Abdou sent off in the seventh minute. They were playing with a defender in goal and a squad cut down by the coronavirus. Youssouf M'Changama scored one of the goals of the tournament. A free kick fired in from 30 metres out. It was a thing of resplendent beauty. It might not have decided the match but it won a lot of hearts. And Cameroon will count themselves lucky it wasn't 11 v 11.

Adversity makes light work

Gambia were hit by food poisoning just before their match against Guinea in Bafoussam. But they managed to prevail. Coach Tom Saintfiet reminded us of the effects of a dodgy bit of meat and gravy - as if we didn’t know. "We didn't have a good feeling about the game because many of us had food poisoning, including me," said the 48-year-old Belgian. "I didn't sleep, was up at the toilet all the time, vomiting and with diarrhoea." Thanks Tom. But the pre-match team talk must have been easy. "Lads, keep making the runs ..."

Squeaky bum time

Had somebody put something in the victuals of the Cameroon team? They were lacklustre after Comoros were reduced to 10 men in the seventh minute of their last-16 tie at the Olembé Stadium in Yaoundé. The first goal came on the half hour and the second in the 70th minute. And then they were pegged back in the 81st minute to bring on some - as the legendary coach Sir Alex Ferguson dubbed it - squeaky bum time.

Answer the call

Remember on Day 15 we were recounting tales of the Tunisia soldiers? Well, here’s something epic. The Covid crisis that beset the Comoros team took out their two goalkeepers. The Ghana striker André Ayew accounted for the other. So Chaker Alhadhur – normally a defender took up the chalice. "I don't think I am the only hero," the 30-year-old told broadcaster Canal Plus. "I did what I could. I think I gave hope to the team and they all tried to help me. Uncommon valour.

Goal machine

Compliments to the Cameroon skipper Vincent Aboubakar who scored his sixth goal of the tournament in the 2-0 win over Cormoros. No player has pulled off this feat since Egypt's Hossam Hassan and South Africa's Benni McCarthy both bagged seven during the tournament in Burkina Faso in 1998.

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