The national team obtained an important tie against Burkina Faso in a match in which it once again demonstrated that the team of Esteban Becker has a great competitive level. With this result, the Nzalang depends upon itself to move on to the quarterfinals, while the team of Burkina Faso depends on other results and is virtually eliminated.
There was a great atmosphere in the Nkoantoma stadium in Bata, on the afternoon of January 21. The Nzalang’s starting lineup consisted of Ovono, Randy, Rui, Mbele, Sipoto, Zarandona, Doualla, Kike Boula, Edu Salvador, Balboa and Emilio Nsue. On the opposite side, a team led by Pitroipa and that has in its ranks eight players who play in the first division of the French league.
Once again, David against Goliath, as was the case when they played against Congo Brazzaville; but an Equatorial Guinean David that with just fifteen days of training before the CAN was victorious. Pride, emotion and a good tactical approach meant that the strengths were equalized. From there, a great Felipe Ovono and a strong defense maintained the score. The pity was that a shot by Nsue bounced off a defender and that the shots by Doualla and Kike Boula went over the crossbar; if any of them had gone in, the future would offer a little more tranquility.
Burkina Faso knew they were laying it on the line in this match and came ready to take the victory. The first chance to do so was Alain Traoré’s, who shot a foul in the 19th minute, which was stopped by Ovono. The Nzalang responds with a good play by Sipo, combining with Nsue, which goes in deep and whose pass is cleared by the opposing goalie.
The next opportunity went to Burkina Faso, when the player Alain Traore’s shot is cleared by Ovono and smashes into the post. Now begin the minutes of greatest suffering for the Nzalang: Burkina Faso puts pressure on them and there are chances to score, but Ovono and the defense manage to maintain a clean scoreboard.
Just before the break, there is a great play by Edu Salvador and Doualla, who passes the ball to Nsue, who in turn finishes off the play with great force, but the ball bounces off a defender when it was on the path to becoming a goal.
In the second half, the coach of the Nzalang makes some tactical changes and the team becomes more compact. The game is controlled and the Equatorial Guineans sought a counterplay that would give them the three points.
And the chances came, first with a great play by Balboa, leaving Doualla alone, although its shot went over the bar. Then Kike Boula had an opportunity, but his shot failed to find the goal.
Towards the end of the match, the Nzalang changed Juvenal for Edu Salvador; Bolado for Kike Boula and Bosio for Javier Balboa. The match ended tied at zero and now on Sunday will be the decisive match against Gabon. The Nzalang has shown it can compete against top teams and Gabon is going to be very difficult.
At a press conference, the coach of Nzalang, Esteban Becker, was pleased and proud of the team’s work, “a young team that has defended the coat of arms with honor. With only fifteen days of training, we have stood up to a very strong rival. We played a serious first half and in the second half the team had courage and deserved the victory.”
In the other match in Group A, the national team of Congo Brazzaville won by one goal to nil against Gabon. The Gabonese had multiple opportunities but were unable to score, while Congo Brazzaville received a gift from the Gabonese defense to score in the practically only clear opportunity they had in the whole match.
Text: Javier Hernandez
Photos: Miguel Angel Andjimi (D. G. Base Internet) and Javier Hernandez
Equatorial Guinea’s Press and Information Office