After two rounds in Group B at the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations, Cape Verde emerged as the group winners after Friday’s 3-0 victory over Mozambique left the Blue Sharks with two wins from two matches. Captain Ryan Mendes became his country’s all-time leading scorer while Bebé and Kevin Pina produced sensational long range strikes for the tournament’s surprise package so far, who had more quality in the attacking third throughout. Cape Verde finish the group stage against Egypt on Monday and Mozambique face Ghana in a must win match for both teams.
Both sides were eager to capitalize on confidence gained from good results in their opening matches but it was clear early on that Cape Verde were more capable. After a couple of opportunities inside fifteen minutes, Rayo Vallecano forward Bebé sent a stern warning to Mozambique goalkeeper Ernan Siluane with a 24th minute free kick strike that rattled the crossbar before going out of play.
Eight minutes later Siluane would not be so fortunate. Another free kick from around forty yards out saw Bebé try another powerful swerving strike and an overwhelmed Siluane could only parry the ball into the corner of his goal. Mozambique showed some signs of life before halftime but after star winger Geny Catamo appeared to win a penalty kick in the 39th minute the referee was called over by VAR to reverse his initial call.
Any momentum the Mambas gained went away just over five minutes into the second half. Careless handling of the ball around the penalty area by Mozambique defender Edmilson Dove resulted in Cape Verde captain Ryan Mendes winning the ball off the Kaizer Chiefs player before firing low past a stranded Siluane. With the goal, Mendes surpassed Héldon Ramos “Nhuck” to become the all-time leading scorer for his country with sixteen goals.
Fortune did not favor the comeback efforts of Mozambique with Catamo hitting the crossbar from a well crafted 59th minute free kick. Ten minutes later another excellent strike from distance confirmed the Cape Verdean victory when defensive midfielder Pina unleashed a splendid drive into the corner of the goal beyond the reach of a diving Siluane.
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