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AFCON 2023 Group A: Ivory Coast stunned again by surprise group winners Equatorial Guinea

Abidjan was left in a state of shock on Monday at the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations after Equatorial Guinea stunned hosts Ivory Coast 4-0 to win Group A and leave Ivorian hopes of advancing to the Round of 16 on a knife’s edge. Emilio Nsue scored twice to increase his lead at the top of the scoring charts, Pablo Ganet curled in a free kick and Jannick Buyla added one more while Ivory Coast saw two goals disallowed by VAR to leave the Elephants in grave danger of becoming the first AFCON host nation to crash out at the group stage since Gabon in 2017. In the other Group A match, Nigeria defeated already eliminated Guinea-Bissau to finish in second place.

It was a shocking result in every way for the Elephants who were in control throughout the match but could not find a way past Equatorial Guinea goalkeeper Jesús Owono who performed admirably. However it was the Nzalang Nacional who silenced the home support in the 42nd minute when right back Carlos Akapo embarked on a mazy run from the right wing and his low cross was cleverly finished by Nsue. Soon after an apparent Ibrahim Sangaré leveler for Ivory Coast was disallowed by VAR for offsides.

Frustration continued to build and Ivorian celebrations were cut short once again in the 67th minute after Elephants substitute Jean-Philippe Krasso scored and had his apparent goal disallowed by VAR due to another offsides. From then on it was a complete meltdown after a brilliant free kick from Ganet doubled the Equatoguinean lead five minutes after Krasso’s disallowed goal. Seconds after the following kick off it was Nsue who scored again due to a lack of concentration from the dismayed Ivorian defense and Buyla added one more in the 88th minute to complete a shock humiliation nobody saw coming, leaving Ivory Coast to wait for the unlikely event they could qualify for the knockout stages as one of four third place finishers from the six groups.

In the other Group A match happening simultaneously, Nigeria had a couple of goals disallowed by VAR but one was enough in a 1-0 result over Guinea-Bissau. The Djurtus, already eliminated following two defeats, played an entirely reserve team but put up some decent resistance against the Super Eagles. However a 36th minute own goal from Guinea-Bissau central defender Opa Sanganté was enough for Nigeria after he redirected a Moses Simon cross past goalkeeper Jonas Mendes.

Highlights from a wild conclusion to Group A will be below when available.

Ivory Coast 0-4 Equatorial Guinea

Guinea-Bissau 0-1 Nigeria (Nigeria goal)

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