Equatorial Guinea and Congo Brazzaville on Sunday became the first teams to qualify for the knock out stage at the on-going Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon).
The hosts scored through Javier Angel Balboa’s second half penalty (55) and another goal by substitute Ivan Edu Salvador to beat Gabon 2-0 at the Bata Stadium. Coach Claude Le Roy’s Congo Brazzaville’s team also humbled 2013 finalists Burkina Faso 2-1 in another Group A match.
After a scoreless first half, the Equatorial Guinea team cheered on by the home fans pushed upfront in numbers. Balboa made a driving run before surging into the Gabon penalty area. Gabon defender Lloyd Palun clipped him in the box and the referee awarded a penalty that he confidently converted.
Two minutes later Raul Lvan Fabiani Bosio almost made it 2-0 for the hosts but Gabon’s goalkeeper Didier Ovono Ebang was up to the task and saved the shot. Gabon’s top player Emerick Aubameyang continued to trouble the Equatorial Guinea defenders, but got no way through to score.
Later Salvador got his chance when he capitalized on a Balboa cross to make it 2-0. It was all celebrations after the final whistle for the hosts.
Each of the teams had two players cautioned with Johann Obiang and Palun getting booked for gabon, while Equatorial Guinea’s Iban Travieso and Ivan Zarandona also went into the referee’s book.
At the Ebebiyin Stadium Thievy Bifouma’s 51st minute goal and another by Fabrice Ondama were enough to give Congo Brazzaville a 2-1 win. Le Roy’s team finish top of Group A with seven points, while the hosts Equatorial Guinea are second on five points.