We have our first major upset at the Africa Cup of Nations, folks.
When the groupings were first announced, most likely thought that Nigeria and Zambia would advance to the quarterfinals. That came half-true—Nigeria has advanced after defeating Ethiopia, 2-0, behind a Victor Moses brace.
But the real shocker came when Burkina Faso drew with Zambia, 0-0, meaning Burkina Faso topped the group while Zambia—defending champion Zambia, that is—was eliminated from the tournament. Who saw that one coming?
Let's recap all of Tuesday's Group C action.
Nigeria Defeats Ethiopia, 2-0
Nigeria was the stronger team for most of this match, controlling possession and looking like a side that was desperate to advance. Unfortunately, all of that position didn't lead to many chances in the first half, and the sides were tied after 45 minutes, 0-0.
Frankly, it wasn't a terribly interesting half to see.
And for much of the second half, little else happened. Nigeria was very patient and deliberate in its attack, but it led to very few chances. That changed in the 79th minute, however, when Victor Moses was fouled in the box by Alula Girma and stepped up himself to take the penalty.
And just like that, Nigeria was up 1-0.
That lead nearly disappeared just moments later, however, as a Saladin Seid header had to be saved by keeper Vincent Enyeama. That would set the stage for Moses to strike again.
This time, it was Ethiopia's goalkeeper, Sisay Bancha, who fouled Moses. Once more, Moses would take the penalty himself, and once more he would slot it home.
So what is Nigeria's prize for advancing out of the group? Oh, just a date with red-hot Ivory Coast, who has already clinched the top spot in Group D. That promises to be one of the games of the tournament for sure.
Burkina Faso and Zambia Draw, 0-0
And so the defending champions go down, not with a bang, but rather with a whimper. Zambia didn't lose a single game in this tournament, but didn't win one either, and will leave South Africa with only three draws to its name.
Give credit where credit is due to Burkina Faso—the team lost the tournament's leading scorer, Alain Traore, early in the match. It seemed a bad omen for the underdogs.
And Zambia had most of the promising chances in this game. But the defending champions just didn't have a championship performance in them on this afternoon, and Burkina Faso was able to escape with a 0-0 draw, and thus, the top spot in the group.
You can bet the country will be happy to avoid Ivory Coast in the quarterfinals. The way the Ivorians are playing right now, nobody in this tournament will want to face them.
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