A one million dollar cheque will be making its way from the offices of Equatorial Guinea president Teodoro Obiang Nguema to the national football team. The Nzalang Nacional shocked everybody with a 1-0 win over Libya in their opening Group A game and Gilson Paulo’s side now face Senegal in a huge game for their Africa Cup of Nations hopes. A packed Estadio de Bata urged the host side on as they beat Libya and captain Juvenal insists that they are looking to build on the positive result and progress through the group stages.
Juvenal said: “The
In contrast, Senegal have been left reeling by their 2-1 defeat to Zambia in their opening fixture. Despite their attacking talent, Amara Traore’s side were left with gaping holes in defence and were exploited in the first half by young striker Rainford Kalaba. Senegal have to win against the co-host nation or face the prospect of going out at the group stagesdespite the pre-tournament hype. Traore was not happy with the calamitous first half against Zambia and is hoping that the loss will wake up the Senegalese side.
The Senegal boss said: “We lost a battle, not the war. It’ll wake us up and that’s going to help a lot on the psychological front. We turned the page on the match this morning, holding a debriefing on what needed to be fixed. My talk to the team was based on the fundamentals; passing, working as a unit to be aggressive.”
Zambia, Senegal’s opponents in the opening game, clinically capitalised on woeful first-half defending by Traore’s side. The main aim of the Chipolopolo was to honour those 23 players killed in a plane crash 19 years ago on the way to a World Cup qualifier and Zambia certainly did that with a good performance against Senegal. Zambia Coach Herve Renard described his side’s performance as “perfection” and believes they have a great chance of progressing to the latter stages. Renard was charismatic on the Zambia touchline and is hoping that the preparation they have put in will help them against Libya.
Meanwhile, Marcos Paqueta was unhappy with the way his Libya side became undone by the hostile Equatorial Guinean crowd and is hoping for a better response against Zambia. Libya have performed miracles to get to the group and Paqueta is unconcerned that they have lost their first game, as they have plenty of time to make up the deficit.
Paqueta said: “If you lose the opening match, it is always difficult going forward. This was a key game for qualification to the next round. We will play for the results in our remaining matches, which will be tougher as the two teams are favourites in the group.”
Senegal must win against Equatorial Guinea or leave their future in the tournament worryingly bleak. The Nzalang Nacional will put up a fight against one of the pre-competition favourites and a victory would see them secure qualification with a game to go. Zambia will look to build on their win against the Elephants and beat Libya, who were unable to take their chances against the co-hosts in their first game and will be looking to make their nation proud after the country’s civil war.