In the opening match of the CAN 2015, played in a stadium packed to the rafters, the National Nzalang managed to obtain a creditable draw at one goal against the national team of Congo Brazzaville. The team coached by Esteban Becker dominated on the scoreboard until the 86th minute and proved, despite having only ten days to prepare for this competition, that it is ready to fight at the highest level.
The national team had a starting lineup of eleven players made up by Ovono, as goalkeeper, Randy, Rui, Mbele and Sipoto on defense, Zarandona and Ganet in midfield, a line of three players with Kike Boula, Ivan Salvador and Balboa, and in offense, Emilio Nsue.
The main surprise of the national team’s lineup was Randy being on the right sideline, who not only gave consistency to the defense, but it was also a reference when getting the ball out of the defensive zone. Always with safety and good judgement.
The match started with the dominion of the Nzalang, which had its first big chance thanks to the player Ivan Salvador. The team played with the ball with lateral moves and sought spaces to attack in the opponent’s area, and there, in a great play by Kike Boula, he passed the player shadowing him to send a long pass to Emilio Nsue, who finished off the play in the back of the Congolese net.
With this result, the Nzalang continued to control the game and sought a second goal to give them confidence on the scoreboard, but they reached half time with a single goal in the lead, which reflected the best game of the national team.
The second half started with changing Ellong for Ganet and thirteen minutes later, one of the highlight players left the field, Kike Boula, and Belima took his place. At that time, the Nzalang still dominated the match but began to feel the fatigue.
The play that could have changed the match came in the 60th minute when a play by Belima ended with a pass to Balboa who finished it off in what could have been the second goal, but it was stopped by the goalkeeper of Congo.
The Congolese began to dominate the game and Ovono had to make a fine save to prevent a tie. The national players still had one last opportunity which came from a play of Ivan Salvador and Balboa, which ended with a shot from Emilio Nsue which was cleared by the goalkeeper to the corner.
From that moment on, Congo began to show its better physical condition and the Nzalang began to suffer attacks from the players coached by Le Roy, who sent a ball to the post.
In the 73rd minute a goal was annulled for offside by Emilio Nsue, and when there were only four minutes left until the final whistle, the star player of Congo Brazzaville, Thievy, scored the tie, which could have become a victory, because two minutes later Ovono made a great save when the worst was already expected.
At the press conference after the match, Esteban Becker was pleased with the team’s game, and thanked the support of the veteran players of the new young ones who had joined the team and said that he is building a team for the future and that, with a little extra time, their game will be much more fluid.
In the other match in Group A, the national team of Gabon won by two goals to nil against Burkina Faso with goals from Aubameyang and Ebouna. Thus, Group A is led by Gabon with three points, followed by Equatorial Guinea and Congo Brazzaville with 1 point, and Burkina Faso closes the group with zero points.
Text and photos: Javier Hernandez
Equatorial Guinea’s Press and Information Office