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2023 AFCON Qualifying: Kome’s brilliant bicycle kick gives Sudan timely win over Gabon

Gabon’s failure to take advantage of their opportunities came back to haunt them on Monday in 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying with a stellar goal from Muhamed Kome giving Sudan a 1-0 victory at the Al-Hilal Stadium in Omdurman. Sudan moves into second place for now in Group I with six points from four matches following Monday’s result, one point behind group leaders Gabon. Mauritania (4 points) and DR Congo (3 points) will wrap up the fourth round of matches in Group I on Tuesday when they clash in Nouakchott.

Sudan is always a difficult place to earn a result but it appeared that Gabon would gain at least a point after a strong start to the match. There were few opportunities for either team in the first half but Sudan particularly struggled to attack and the visiting Panthers were able to keep the match scoreless by halftime with little issue, coming closest when Didier Ndong’s hard shot was denied by the face of Sudan goalkeeper Mohamed Mustafa.

The Gabonese team pushed forward with confidence in the second half and should have taken the lead. Striker Aaron Boupendza’s header went off the woodwork in the 58th minute before missing a great opportunity minutes later by lifting his finish past Mustafa and just wide of the post after receiving a clever pass from Anthony Oyono.

Boupendza and Gabon paid for their wastefulness by conceding their first goal of AFCON qualifying in the 67th minute when Sudan right back Athir El Tahir’s cross to the edge of the Gabonese penalty area saw an audacious bicycle attempt from Kome that came off perfectly as Gabon keeper Jean-Noël Amonome could only watch the ball nestle into the bottom corner. Gabon could not recover from Kome’s brilliant goal and after sending star attackers Denis Bouanga and Jim Allevinah back to their clubs early following last week’s victory there will certainly be questions about the decision with qualification still not secured.

Highlights from Sudan’s victory are below.

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