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Central African Republic hold strong for “home” draw against Cape Verde

Despite having a squad lacking noticeable star power and being forced to host their opening home FIFA World Cup qualifying match in Cameroon, Central African Republic scrapped back from a first half deficit to draw Cape Verde 1-1 on Wednesday. Both teams start their second round campaign with one point in Group C with Nigeria and Liberia set to square off on Friday in the group’s other match.

Cape Verde came in as the favorites and attempted to find an early goal, but driving rain and a soaked pitch prevented the Blue Sharks from asserting their dominance. In fact, the best chance in the opening exchanges fell to the CAR when a hopeful ball was lobbed into the Cape Verde penalty area, but a lunging finish went just wide of the post with goalkeeper Vozinha clearly beaten.

The breakthrough for the opening goal came in the 36th minute as CAR failed to generate much more going forward and Cape Verde took control of the game. Kenny Rocha Santos collected the ball on the left wing and had plenty of time to line up an inswinging cross that was perfectly placed for veteran striker Julio Tavares to run on to and blast a half volley past CAR keeper Prince Samolah, giving the Blue Sharks a halftime lead.

Rocha Santos nearly found the net early in the second half with a curling free kick that was tipped over, but CAR provided the necessary response to restore parity in the 53rd minute. A short corner kick was poorly defended by Cape Verde, leading to a shot from a tight angle that Vozinha got in front of, but could not secure due to the wet conditions. The rebound went back towards the middle of the six yard box, where Tresor Toropite had a clear lane to shoot into the unguarded net.

Cape Verde attempted to find a winner but were frustrated by poor finishing and a stout performance from Samolah in the CAR goal. The closest the visitors came was when Ryan Mendes dove onto a cross for a header, but his effort clipped the post as it bounced wide. The result was disappointing in the end for Cape Verde, who were hoping for three points on the road against a rebuilding Les Fauves side.

Highlights are in the link below.

Highlights from FIFA TV

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