When Esteban Oroczo Fernandez squeezed a cutback into the net with a blistering grounder in the 70th minute to seal an historic 1-0 win for Equatorial Guinea and end Algeria’s 35 game unbeaten run, the football world stood still for the Nzalang Nacional.
The defeat left Algeria on the brink of elimination, they never recovered and were subsequently knocked out of the AFCON following a 3-1 loss to Ivory Coast to finish bottom of the group with One point. One of the biggest upsets in AFCON history.
In the Round of 16, Equatorial Guinea overcame a Malian side 61 places higher on the FIFA ranking 6-5 via the lottery of the penalty shootout following a drab 120 minutes of football which witnessed only One shot on target. A place in the last 8 vs another heavyweight Senegal on Sunday January 30 2022 beckons.
NUMBER OR CONTENDERS ?
Considering The pedigree and history of host Cameroon, Morocco, Egypt, Senegal and Tunisia coupled with the fact that this is Equatorial Guinea’s third AFCON appearance one might be tempted to TAG them as NUMBERS in the last 8 of the 2021 African cup of Nations.
It is important to note that Equatorial Guinea have made it to the knockout stages of the AFCON at each appearance, a Quarter Final finish in 2012 preceding a Semi Final loss at the 2015 edition of the AFCON on home soil. In 2015 The Nzalang Nacional defeated Tunisia 2-1 in the Quarter Final before falling to a 3nil defeat in the hands of Ghana. A history of always going a step further than the last time.
Having previously Conquered 2019 Champions Algeria, 2019 runners Up Senegal will be careful not to underrate the Juan Micha tutored Equatorial Guinea side considering their compact set up and incredible work rate. Goalkeeper Jesus Ovono will expectedly be called upon on several occasions against a star studded Senegalese team.
In the end , a win for Equatorial Guinea over Senegal will increase the believe of bookmakers in their ability and shift their rating from mere Giant Killers to genuine Contenders for the AFCON Title in Cameroon.