Equatorial Guinea inflicted an initial 36-match defeat on Algeria on Sunday to leave the reigning champions in grave danger of a group stage exit from the Africa Cup of Nations after a startling goalkeeper mistake cost Ivory Coast victory over Sierra Leone.
Esteban Obiang, one of a host of Spanish-born Equatorial Guinea players, scored the goal in the 70th minute that gave his team a 1-0 victory in Douala when Algeria lost for the first time since October 2018.
The unbeaten match ends just two matches after Italy’s recently established record of 37 without a loss and Algeria must now beat the Ivory Coast in their last group E-excursion on Thursday if they are to make it to the last sixteen.
Djamel Belmadi’s team could only draw 0-0 against Sierra Leone in their opening match in Cameroon and if they do not succeed against the Ivorians, it will be the fifth time in six Cups of Nations that the holders do not manage to get further than the group stage. the finals.
The only exception during that time came in 2019, when the reigning champions Cameroon lost in the last 16.
“Everyone was talking about our undefeated running but now we have to focus on something else, go out and secure the qualification,” said Belmadi.
A team from Equatorial Guinea that is ranked 114th in the world and 28th in Africa now has a good chance of reaching the knockout stage for the third time.
The two previous occasions came when they hosted the tournament, in 2012 and 2015, but this time many of the fans in the audience supported the nearly 12,000 in the Douala “National Thunder”.
The capital of Equatoguine, Malabo, on the island of Bioko, is a short jump across the Gulf of Guinea from Cameroon’s economic capital.
“We are very proud to beat the best team in Africa,” said their coach, Juan Micha.
It was a dramatic day at Japoma Stadium, where Badra Ali Sangare’s incredible injury time error gave Sierra Leone a 2-2 draw against Ivory Coast.
With the Elephants in the lead with 2-1, Sangare went to catch a ball that was nodded back to him by a teammate in the third added minute in an attempt to prevent a corner, only to drop it in the way of Steven Caulker who placed for substitute Alhaji Kamara to score.
The remarkable moment prevented the Ivory Coast from finishing the qualifiers to the last sixteen.
Singer, who has taken over the gloves in this tournament because the first choice Sylvain Gbohouo got a doping suspension, then went off injured and left right-back Serge Aurier to watch the match between the posts.
Before the late drama, the 2015 champions seemed to have a second win in as many matches thanks to Nicolas Pepe’s strike in the second half.
“Honestly, I can not explain that goal. You can have Jurgen Klopp or Pep Guardiola as responsible and they could not prepare for it,” Ivory Coast coach Patrice Beaumelle says.
Franck Kessie had an early penalty for the Elephants saved but Ajax star Sebastien Haller put them in the lead and Musa Kamara made it 1-1 before Pepe struck.
Elsewhere, Wahbi Khazri scored two goals as Tunisia recovered from a controversial loss to Mali by beating Mauritania 4-0 in the coastal city of Limbe to record their first points in Group F.
Saint-Etienne forward Khazri’s brace came after Hamza Mathlouthi’s early start. Khazri then created the afternoon’s final goal for Seifeddine Jaziri, while Youssef Msakni missed a late penalty for Tunisia.
Mali and tournament debutants Gambia both sit one point over Tunisia on four points after drawing 1-1 at the same venue, Musa Barrow converted a penalty in the 90th minute for Gambia to cancel Ibrahima Kone’s goal kick in the 79th minute on the other end. .
The final round of the group stage begins on Monday when hosts Cameroon face Cape Verde and Burkina Faso face Ethiopia in Group A.