The Nzalang Nacional achieved in the afternoon of January 25 a historic victory by two goals to nil against the national team of Gabon. Thus, the national team passes to the quarterfinals and awaits the rival that will come from Group B, consisting of Tunisia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cape Verde and Zambia.
The national team had the starting lineup of Ovono, Randy, Rui, Evuy, Sipoto, Zarandona, Doualla, Kike Boula, Balboa, Emilio Nsue and Bosio. There were two changes compared to the game played against Burkina Faso. Evuy entered for the sanctioned Mbele, and Bosio for Ibán Edu.
The decision of the Nzalang coach of placing Bosio as a striker was one of the keys to the victory, adding to it the stops made by Ovono. The local coach, despite not having barely any time to prepare for this CAN, has managed to put together a solid team, committed and having the best goalkeeper in this African Cup of Nations. Felipe Ovono again played a spectacular match: at the 17th minute he cleared a close range header by the captain of Gabon, Aubameyang, and a few minutes later he made another great stop of a shot by Evouna.
The Nzalang played with order, controlling the attacks by Gabon and using speed and dribbling of Kike Boula to try to break the Gabonese defense. Boula’s feet created two passes, one that was intercepted before it could be reached by Nsue, and another that Doualla shot over the crossbar.
The second half began with Gabon launching the attack. Two fouls in the first minutes shot by Aubamenyang and Bulot tested the reflexes of Ovono, who managed them both times, clearing the ball to the corner.
And at the tenth minute, a great breakaway by Balboa, who made a good wall with Bosio, ends in a penalty. The maximum penalty is shot by Balboa himself to the right of the Gabonese goalkeeper, who despite his great dive fails to stop the ball.
Gabon continued to attack, and in the counterattack, Bosio had the opportunity to decide the game, but the goalkeeper stopped the ball. The Panthers of Gabon would also had an opportunity a few minutes later with a shot by Bulot when Ovono was already down, which fortunately went over the bar.
The Nzalang continued to playing its game and at 25 minutes, a good shot by Doualla is stopped, not without difficulty, by Didier Ovono. Esteban Becker made his first change and Ibán Edu replaces Kike Boula. Minutes later, Juvenal also enters for Bosio, who did an extraordinary job.
Gabon kept charging the goal of Equatorial Guinea and in a new counterattack, Ibán Edu made a great pass to Balboa, who shot, but the Gabonese goalkeeper managed to clear the ball with his feet.
And when the match was reaching its end, at the 85th minute, Ibán Edu passes to Balboa, who managed to get away from his shadow and makes a perfect pass, which was finished off by Nsue. It was rejected by Didier Ovono, and Ibán Edu, following the play, turns it into a goal. A goal that unleashed madness in the stands of Nkoantoma.
At the press conference after the match, Esteban Becker congratulated the national team of Gabon, saying they were the Cinderella of the group, but sometimes the poor win against the rich. Referring to Balboa, he said he is a player of great proven quality, of whom he is asking for the maximum effort and he is providing it.
He also had words of thanks for the President of the FEGUIFUT, Andres Jorge Mbomio “Lindo”, who -he said- brought him three years ago to Equatorial Guinea and has given him the opportunity to train the Nzalang.
In the other match in Group A, the national team of Congo Brazzaville won against Burkina Faso by two goals to one. Thus, Congo Brazzaville passes as first in the group with seven points and Equatorial Guinea is second with five points. Gabon, with three points, and Burkina Faso, with one, are eliminated.
Text: Javier Hernandez
Photos: Miguel Angel Andjimi (D. G. Base Internet) and Javier Hernandez
Equatorial Guinea’s Press and Information Office