Bayo header fires Guinea to AFCON quarterfinals
By Femi Atolagbe
Guinea yesterday booked their place in the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations quarterfinals after they scored a last-gasp winner to beat 10-man Equatorial Guinea 1-0 at the Alassane Ouattara Stadium.
The last-16 encounter in Abidjan looked set to be heading for extra-time when Mohamed Bayo popped up at the death with a sublime header to keep the National Elephants’ dream alive.
Kaba Diawara’s side will now await the winner of the clash between Egypt and DR Congo to see who they will face in the last eight of the tournament.
The first half was a cagey affair that lacked creativity and inspiration as the two teams struggled to create any noteworthy chances.
Guinea bossed possession and had an early sniff at goal when Morgan Guilavogui fed Bayo on the right in the third minute, but the striker’s long-range shot from an angle flew well wide of the near post.
The West Africans had a chance to deliver the ball into the box on 18 minutes after they were awarded a free-kick some 35 yards out. However, Saul Coco decided to go for goal and only succeeded in hitting the wall.
Equatorial Guinea also wasted a free-kick in the 43th minute when Iban Salvador laid it off to Pablo Ganet, who struck the wall from just outside the box, while Guilavogui blazed high and wide from an angle on the right at the other end of the pitch moments later.
The second half began much livelier and Emilio Nsue threatened for the first time on 47 minutes as he lashed a shot over the crossbar after the ball had bobbled around inside the box.
The National Elephants thought they had made the breakthrough shortly afterwards when Mory Konate powered a header home from a 53rd-minute free-kick, but he had strayed offside.
Their opponents were then dealt a massive blow two minutes later with the dismissal of Federico Bikoro, who caught Bayo in the ribcage as he followed through in a challenge and received a straight red card.
But the National Thunder had an opportunity to open the scoring in the 69th minute after Salvador was caught by Sekou Sylla inside the box. The referee waved play on, although VAR intervened and a penalty was awarded.
Nsue squandered the gilt-edged chance though, as his spot-kick clipped the outside of the right post, having sent Ibrahim Kone the wrong way.