The roar of the crowd at the Alassane Outtara Stadium in Abidjan turned into a whimper as Equatorial Guinea delivered a stunning 4-0 thrashing of hosts Ivory Coast, sending the Elephants crashing out of the Africa Cup of Nations in the most humiliating fashion. In contrast, Nigeria slinked into the last 16 with a less flamboyant, but equally effective, 1-0 victory over Guinea-Bissau.
Emilio Nsue was the orchestrator of Equatorial Guinea’s demolition, bagging a brace and feasting on the gaping holes in the Ivorian defense. Pablo Ganet and Jannick Buyla added their names to the scoresheet, transforming the opulent stadium, meant to be a monument to national pride, into a slaughterhouse for the hosts’ dreams.
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Ivory Coast’s hopes flickered briefly when Jean-Philippe Krasso thought he had equalized midway through the second half, but video technology dashed their fleeting joy. From that point, Equatorial Guinea ran riot, adding two goals in quick succession before putting the icing on the cake in the dying minutes.
Expressing his dissapointment after the game, Côte d’ivoire’s gaffer Gasset didn’t throw stones on his players:
“I don’t think it’s about the state of mind. When I see the players in the locker room crying it hurts me. We tried, we gave everything, I think. When you have a scenario like that, bordering on nightmare, there is not much to say or do,” said the 70-year-old French technician, recognizing that the second Equatorial Guinean goal had been a “massive blow”.
While Equatorial Guinea soared under the unlikely heroics of Nsue, Nigeria adopted a more pragmatic approach against Guinea-Bissau. An own goal by Opa Sangante was all they needed to secure the three points and a place in the next round. While their much-vaunted forward line sputtered, the Super Eagles’ watertight defense held firm, allowing Peseiro’s men to grind out a victory without fanfare.