African Cup of Nations: Equatorial Guinea Beats Libya 1-0

Africa Cup of Nations co-hosts Equatorial Guinea beat Libya 1-0 in the tournament opener on Saturday evening at Estadio de Bata.

The goal was scored by Javier Balboa late in the second half.

Libya had the better of the early exchanges, maintaining possession and looking more cohesive against a host team that started the match relying on ineffective long balls. The first chance fell to visitors six minutes into the game when Walid Al Khatroushi cut in from the right and dribbled into the penalty but Fousseiny Kamisoko was there to deny him with a last ditch tackle.

Libyan domination didn’t last long though as the hosts shook off their nerves and began creating opportunities by playing off Ivan Bolado.

Iban “Randy” Iyanga acted as creator for the Nzalang National who had a goal controversially disallowed when Thierry Fidjeu was perhaps harshly judged to have interfered with Samir Aboud’s botched save attempt. With the stadium alive and buzzing, Equatorial Guinea players were causing one problem after another for the Libyan defence but lacked the killer touch on all eight of their first half shot attempts.

The second half was much like the first in that both sides looked tentative to start but the two eventually settled down and began exchanging attacks. The high tempo didn’t last though as the teams went back into their shells and much of the period was played at a rather pedestrian pace.

The Libyans were slightly more composed than their opponents but couldn’t get their tall centre-forward, Ahmed Zuway, the type of service he needed to be effective. A defensive lapse resulted in Equatorial Guinea defender Lawrence Sokota Doe belting a free kick that Aboud did well to save on 72 minutes.

With both teams seemingly content to settle for a point, it looked like the match would end scoreless but Nzalang Nacional substitute Akedo Chigozirin split the Libyan defence in the 87th minute with a through ball into Javier Balboa who curled his effort in and sent the home fans into rapturous celebrations. Ekanga could have added a second late in the game.

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