Equatorial Guinea has qualified for the knock-out stage at the ongoing TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations 2021 in Cameroon after defeating Sierra Leone by a lone goal on Thursday.
The Nzalang Nacional sealed their place after the hard-fought win at the Limbe Omnisport Stadium, and have also ended the fairy tale of Sierra Leone in the competition.
Sierra Leone went on record as the less fancied side that held Algeria the defending champions to a draw in their opening and capped it with a splendid performance.
They also subjected West Africa’s powerhouse Cote D’ Ivoire to a two-all draw game in the same group and looked good to progress to the next stage but failed.
It was Palblo Ganet’s 38th-minute goal that made the difference for the Equatorial Guinea team. Ganet capitalized on a quickly taken free-kick by José Machín when he slotted the ball past Sierra Leone’s goalkeeper Mohamed Nbalie Kamara.
The Leone Stars also had Kei Kamara and Kei Kamara come close before the break.
After the interval, the Sierra Leone Stars returned charged and pushed up front to try and level matters. But the Nzalang Nacional continued to defend well and close out the spaces.
The Leone Stars had defender Steven Caulker miss the target after 73 minutes.
After 85 minutes Sierra Leone was awarded a penalty after Issa Kallon was felled in the box. But they failed to make good use of the penalty as Kei Kamara stepped up, but his shot was blocked by Equatorial Guinea’s goalkeeper Jesus Lazaro Owono Ngua.
The Sierra Leone team came to the match in need of a clear victory to progress to the round of 16. Nzalang Nacional have now qualified for the round of 16 after finishing second in the group behind Cote d’Ivoire who humbled Algeria 3-1.