, , , ,


The final games in Group D found all teams on equal points, nothing separating all four times due to all games so far finishing 1-1. With the very real danger of qualification being done by drawing lots, the onus was on either side to force a victory and a place in the knockout stages. The Nuevo Estadio de Malabo was once again full to capacity to see two of the African heavyweights battle it out in effectively, a sudden death match up.

The Elephants of Cote d’Ivoire started the game well, Herve Renard’s men disappointing in the tournament up until now, unable to live up to the growing expectations of a star-studded team. One of the stars, new Manchester City man, Wilfried Bony was on hand to test Cameroon goalkeeper Fabrice Ondoa after five minutes of play. A surging run by right-back Serge Aurier opened up the Cameroon defence, crossing for Bony who’s effort using his knee was saved well. FC Zurich’s Franck Etoundi was next with an effort on goal, the Cameroonian striker’s header flying over the bar, when perhaps he should have at least tested the goal-keeper. Further chances were created by both sides, an entertaining game unfolding for the partisan crowd, neither side able to gain a foothold on the match. It took a moment of magic to separate the sides though, just after the half hour mark. Cameroon’s Jerome Guihoata was at fault, losing the ball clunsily to Max Gradel and his blushes were not spared by the St Etienne man, who smashed a 25 yard effort past Ondoa, beating him on his inside post for another contender for goal of the tournament. Would this spark the Ivorians into life, the world has been waiting for the Elephants to produce a stand out performance in Equatorial Guinea but so far had been disappointed. Yaya Toure, so influential for club team Manchester City in the English Premiership has also failed to shine, looking subdued and far below his best. The Indomitable Lions of Cameroon did not let their heads drop though, again forcing a good save from Sylvain Gbohouo after Stephen Mbia threaded through an impeccable ball to Edgar Salli. Salli would again come close, just before the half-time whistle, this time after great work from Benjamin Moukandjo but blazed high over the bar from 10 yards out, a bad miss from the on-loan Monaco player.

The start of the second half saw a lull in proceedings, both teams seeming to catch their breath, the Ivorians now happy to concede possession in the knowledge that a win would see them through. Once again, Bony was to show his strength on the hour mark, latching on to a long ball, bustling his way past Nicolas N’Koulou before having his shot saved. With the clock ticking, Cameroon committed players forward looking for the elusive goal that would possibly keep them in the competition. With ten minutes remaining their best chance of the half fell to Aboubkar, but substitute defender Ousumane Viera was on hand to block his shot, the Ivorian defence resolute in the face of a Cameroon onslaught. And hold out they did, a last minute effort from Aboubkar sailing high over the bar summing up Cameroon’s evening. The final score 1-0 to the Ivory Coast who themselves have worries going into the Quarter-Finals with captain Yaya Toure limping off after 80 minutes with what looked like a possible injury. For Cameroon, they become one of the big name casualties of the 2015 tournament, adding to the disappointment of a shambolic performance at the Brazil World Cup. Herve Renard’s men will now face Algeria in what looks to be the pick of the Quarter-Final matches on the February 1st.