On Thursday, there were many questions about Group B that needed answering at the Africa Cup of Nations.
Could Ghana wrestle control of the group away from Mali, who came into the day atop the group? Would DR Congo or Niger get a much-needed win, or would each settle for a tie and a must-win situation over the final leg of group play?
For Niger, a win against DR Congo was needed with a tough final game against group-favorite Ghana. For DR Congo and Mali, putting themselves in the best position to advance before facing one another next week was the goal.
Let's see how it all shook out.
Ghana Defeats Mali, 1-0
And just like that, Ghana is back in control of Group B. However, it didn't come without some controversy.
Mubarak Wakaso's penalty kick in the 38th minute would give Ghana the lead for good in this one, though many folks will turn to a decision made in the fifth minute, when Ghana goalkeeper Fatau Dauda handled the ball out of his area.
He was given a yellow card for the transgression, but with Mali's Seydou Keita in the area and looking like he would have easily scored, many felt it should have been a red card.
Much of the first half was a battle in the midfield, though both teams registered a few decent chances before Wakaso slotted home his penalty attempt after Emmanuel Agyemang Badu was fouled in the box by Adama Tamboura.
Mali never posed much of a threat in the second half, which was mostly marked by yellow cards and a lack of imagination in the attack by the trailing side. I expect Ghana to advance with a win over Niger, while Mali will now have a fight on its hands against DR Congo.
Niger and Congo Draw, 0-0
There's plenty of reason to celebrate for Niger, even though its second group match ended in a draw against Congo. It's the first point earned by the Menas in the finals of the Africa Cup of Nations, which is a step, albeit a small one, in the right direction.
As for the match itself, there wasn't much action. Both sides struggled to create scoring chances. The few that were generated by Congo were turned aside by Niger goalkeeper Kassaly Daouda, who was a rare standout in the match.
Dieumerci Mbokani, who plays for Anderlecht at the club level, was the most active player for Congo. He was one of the few players actually able to make some waves in the attacking third for either side, but wasn't able to put one past Daouda.
The result keeps both countries alive heading into the final Group B matches, which will feature Niger taking on Ghana and Congo facing off with Mali. As it stands now, Ghana leads the group with four points, followed by Mali with three, Congo with two and Niger with one.
It's hard to pick against Ghana advancing given its superior talent level, but the other spot in the knockout rounds is up for grabs and will likely be decided by the Congo versus Mali match.
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