The national team achieved an impressive draw against the reigning African Cup of Nations, Ivory Coast, at the Felix Opue Boigne Stadium of Abidjan. The great tactical strategy of Esteban Becker and the effort of all the players have had their reward, a draw which strengthened the team in view of next matches.
The National Nzalang managed to tie at one goal each in the second match of the FIFA friendly matches, which took place on the March 29 in Abidjan (Ivory Coast), against the Ivorian Elephants, African champions.
Equatorial Guinea had the starting lineup of Felipe Ovono; Evuy; Mbele; Rui; Sipo; Kike; Randy; Zarandona; Belima; Balboa and Iban. A compact formation, leaving Iban Salvador on point and foremost attacker.
The strategy worked perfectly and at thirteen minutes, a great pass from Randy gave the advantage to Iban, who received the ball right at his boot and shot with great power, scoring the first goal.
From that moment on, despite the dominance of Ivory Coast, the Nzalang controlled the match and the few opportunities of the Ivorians came from two free kicks from Yaya Toure, which went over the bar. The first half ended with the Nzalang in the lead.
The second half began with the changes of Igor for Mbele, who had a yellow card, and Doualla for Belima, to strengthen the midfield. Ivory Coast was still creating danger with the faults and Ovono had to make a great stop from a shot by Yaya Toure.
Ivory Coast still had dominion, but Becker’s boys managed to keep a clean score and the Elephants had no clear chances. At 61 minutes James substituted Kike Boula, and nine minutes later, another new penalty shot by Yaya Toure was cleared by Ovono and in continuation of the play, Gradel tied the game.
A hard blow that the team accepted with integrity. Ivory Coast sought the winning goal, but the Nzalang defended with order, perfectly protecting the goal defended by Ovono.
Fifteen minutes from the final whistle, Josico substituted Iban Salvador, who already had a yellow card, and during injury time Ganet and Bosio substituted Zarandona and Balboa. The match ended with the draw.
After the matches against Egypt and Ivory Coast, the National Nzalang is clearly strengthened and has proved that what was achieved in the CAN 2015 was not a fluke, but the foundation of a great team that in the future will give us great joy.
Text: Javier Hernandez
Photos: National Nzalang
Equatorial Guinea’s Press and Information Office