On Saturday, it was win or go home in the quarterfinal stage of the Africa Cup of Nations. Well, except for South Africa, which is already at home as the tournament's host.
In the first game, Ghana were set to face Cape Verde. In the afternoon game, South Africa had Mali to deal with, the team that finished third in last year's tournament.
These are for are the marbles, folks. Let's recap Saturdays action at the Afcon.
Ghana Defeats Cape Verde, 2-0
Brace yourselves for this—Mubarak Wakaso was a super sub for Ghana on Saturday, coming off the bench and scoring both goals to send Ghana to the semifinals.
But don't be fooled by that score. Cape Verde came to play in this one, and Ghanas's keeper Gatau Dauda, not Wakaso, was the man of the match.
The first half was a rather cagey, cautious affair, and neither team seemed keen to leave themselves vulnerable in the back. The first 45 minutes certainly weren't the most exciting football we've seen at the tournament. Ghana did control the ball, however, maintaining 68-percent possession.
The second half would open up a bit.
Wakaso was subbed on just a minute into the second half, and he would make his presence felt quickly. After Asamoah Gyan was fouled in the box—though that call will be justifiably scrutinized as it looked like a weak challenge and not worth calling a penalty—Wakaso calmly handled the penalty kick and put Ghana ahead.
Cape Verde would ratchet up the pressure after that, but the team simply couldn't find that final touch to earn the equalizer. Truly, Cape Verde were a bit unlucky to lose this one, and Dauda was brilliant in net for Ghana.
Ghana would earn its second goal in stoppage time, as Cape Verde keeper Vozinha came forward for a corner kick in a desperate attempt to tie the game. Ghana would win the ball back, and Wakaso would break away from the pack and easily slot home his second goal of the day.
Ghana will face the winner of Burkina Faso and Togo.
Mali Defeats South Africa, 1-1 (3-1 on Penalties)
It took penalties to decide it, but Mali will move on to the semifinals after defeating South Africa 1-1 (3-1 on penalties). For the hosts, the tournament ends in bitter disappointment. And for the second tournament in a row, Mali has knocked off the host country (Gabon in 2012).
South Africa was the better team early, keeping the pressure high, dominating possession and notching the first goal of the game after Thuso Phala found a streaking Tokelo Rantie, who calmly deposited the ball into an empty net.
But South Africa slowly let Mali back into the game, and Mali made them pay. Seydou Keita—who else?—would head home the equalizing goal in the 58th minute off a Mahamadou Samassa cross.
And then the stalemate begin, as the rest of the second half and both overtime sessions would go scoreless, leading to the ever-controversial penalty shootout.
Siphiwe Tshabalala would get South Africa off to a solid start, scoring to start off the shootout. But things would go downhill from there for the hosts.
While Cheick Diabate, Adama Tamboura and Mahamane Traore would all execute for Mali, Dean Furman, May Mahlangu and Lehlohonolo Majoro would all fail to find the back of the net. And with that, Mali moves on and will face the winner of Ivory Coast and Nigeria.
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