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AFCON 2021: Boupendza’s stunner hands Gabon win

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Aaron Boupendza celebrates his winner for Gabon against Africa Cup of Nations newcomers Comoros

Gabon secured a 1-0 win over Comoros in the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) Group C match at the Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo on Monday night.

A stunning first-half goal from Aaron Boupendza ensured that the Panthers began their Group C campaign with a narrow victory over the Coelacanths in the capital city of Cameroon, Yaounde.

The Panthers started the match brightly as they looked to pile pressure on the Coelacanths, who were playing their first-ever match in the Afcon finals, but the tournament debutants looked compact and solid at the back.

It took something special from Gabon to penetrate the Comoros’ defence in the 16th minute. Louis Ameka controlled a long ball from goalkeeper Joel Noel Amonome brilliantly, before setting up Aaron Boupendza who scored a stunning goal.

The Qatar-based striker, who was leading the Panthers’ attack in the absence of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, beat keeper Ali Ahamada from a tight angle with his left-footed shot to hand Gabon a 1-0 lead.

Comoros then controlled the game as they looked to level matters, but they found it difficult to break down the Gabonese defence with Amonome dealing well with long balls from the Coelacanths. The score was 1-0 to Gabon at the interval.

Read Also: AFCON 2021: Guinea edge wasteful Malawi

The Coelacanths continued to push for the equalising goal after the restart with their coach Amir Abdou having introduced Cyprus-based midfielder Fouad Bachirou and SO Cholet forward Faiz Mattoir.

Both teams launched attacks with neither side happy to sit back and invite pressure. Denis Bouanga’s effort was well saved by Ahamada, while Moussa Djoumoi’s powerful low shot was blocked by Amonome at the other end.

Patrice Neveu, the Gabon head coach, then pulled out goalscorer Boupendza and introduced David Sambissa, who is a defender by trade. Gabon were able to contain Comoros and ultimately they emerged 1-0 winners on the night.

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Germany wing-back Gosens joins Inter Milan from Atalanta

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Inter Milan have completed the signing of Germany international Robin Gosens from Atalanta on a deal until 2026, the Italian champions announced on Thursday.

Gosens has signed a four and a half year contract in Milan and moves on loan with an obligation to buy.

The 27-year-old becomes the Serie A leaders’ first signing of the January transfer window and will compete with Ivan Perisic for the left wing-back spot in Simone Inzaghi’s side.

“I’m so proud to have joined one of the biggest clubs in Europe,” Gosens said. “I’m thrilled to be here and can’t wait to get started.

“It wasn’t a difficult decision for me. I didn’t need any convincing because I also know it’s a huge club.

“Some incredible German players have made history at this club. I hope to be part of that myself. That’s my ambition.”

Inter’s statement did not mention a fee, but Sky Italia reported that the buyout clause is set at 25 million euros ($27.87 million) plus three million euros in bonuses.

Gosens played a key role at Atalanta achieving three consecutive third-place finishes in Serie A, and started every match for Germany at Euro 2020 last year.

However, this season the left wing-back has been sidelined since September with a hamstring injury and is not expected to return for at least another month.

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Read Also: Mane and Salah on track for AFCON final showdown

Gosens joined Atalanta from Dutch club Heracles in June 2017 and became one of the best wing-backs in Serie A.

The German’s threat going forward flourished in Gian Piero Gasperini’s attack-minded side and Gosens has scored 20 goals and provided 14 assists over the last two seasons.

He has been limited to eight appearances in all competitions this term, scoring twice, before suffering injury in a Champions League group match against Young Boys.

The Nerazzurri are four points clear in Serie A, with a game in hand over Napoli and AC Milan below them.

They face their local rivals in the Milan derby on February 5 in a key moment for the title race.

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AFCON: Injury blow for AC Milan and Senegal’s Ballo-Toure

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Ballo Toure

Bad news continues to arrive from the African Cup of Nations because AC Milan will be without Fode Ballo-Toure for some time.

The Milan defender suffered an adductor injury in the round of 16 game he played with Senegal at AFCON earlier this week. He came on inside the final quarter of the game but was unable to finish it, coming off in pain during the fifth minute of added time at the end of the 90.

read also:Everton Job: Friday is D-day for Lampard, Pereira
According to Calciomercato.com – who cite an announcement from the Senegalese Football Association – Ballo-Toure’s tournament is over and he will play no further part in his country’s run.

The statement from them explains that the injury will keep the defender out for three weeks, which is a worry for the Rossoneri given that Theo Hernandez is one yellow card away from reaching the threshold for a one-game ban, with no natural back-up aside from Ballo-Toure.

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Mane and Salah on track for AFCON final showdown

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Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah have helped Liverpool conquer England and Europe, now both crave Africa Cup of Nations winners’ medals.

Both sharpshooters will be in quarter-finals action on Sunday in Cameroon with Mane-inspired Senegal tackling surprise packets Equatorial Guinea while Salah and his Egypt teammates confront Morocco.

Mane says he would “swap all the medals he has won for a Cup of Nations gold gong” while Salah talks of the “desperation of the Egyptian people for another title” after last being champions in 2010.

If they continue winning, twice runners-up Senegal and record seven-time champions Egypt will meet in the February 6 final of the marquee African sporting event.

Here, supersport.com looks ahead to the quarterfinals with Tunisia, Cameroon, Egypt and Senegal favoured, but shocks are almost inevitable in a tournament where the form book has constantly been mocked.

BURKINA FASO V TUNISIA

One of the biggest shocks came last weekend when struggling Tunisia took the lead over previously impressive Nigeria through veteran Youssef Msakni and held on for a 1-0 last-16 triumph.

The Carthage Eagles should be stronger on Saturday as they welcome back head coach Mondher Kebaier and several stars, including captain and forward Wahbi Khazri, who have recovered from coronavirus.

Tunisia have been unpredictable and are the only quarterfinalists to lose twice in Cameroon, but Burkina Faso have been equally hard to judge when winning once, drawing twice and losing once.

The countries have met twice at the last-eight stage with the Stallions winning both and hopes of a ‘hat-trick’ will hinge heavily on how well captain and Aston Villa forward Bertrand Traore performs.

CAMEROON V GAMBIA

Five-time champions Cameroon have scored nine goals in four outings — the most of any contender — but the Indomitable Lions are also the only one of the quarter-finalists to concede in every match.

Six of the goals have come from captain and tournament chart-topper Vincent Aboubakar and fellow forward Karl Toko Ekambi has netted the other three, so Gambia know where the main threats will come from.

Debutants Gambia have been the surprise team among the 24 qualifiers, defying being ranked 150th in the world to remain unbeaten and conceding only once, from a penalty.

Musa Barrow from Italian Serie A club Bologna has become an overnight star in Cameroon and Ablie Jallow is another Gambian Cameroon need to shackle.

EGYPT V MOROCCO

This showdown between north African giants stands out as the highlight of the four quarter-finals with Morocco holding a 3-2 lead from previous Cup of Nations tournament clashes.

Egypt showed the defensive solidity the country is famed for when holding a star-studded Ivory Coast attack goalless in the round of 16 before winning on penalties.

Salah works tirelessly but has scored only once in Cameroon — the winner against Guinea-Bissau — and the extra shooting practice ordered by coach Carlos Queiroz has yet to deliver dividends.

Morocco boast potential match-winners in forwards Youssef En-Nesyri and Sofiane Boufal while last-16 victims Malawi will attest to the free-kick expertise of Paris Saint-Germain full-back Achraf Hakimi.

EQUATORIAL GUINEA V SENEGAL

Mane says he is “very well” and “what does not kill you makes you stronger” amid concerns that he may have been concussed in a collision with Cape Verde goalkeeper Vozinha in a laboured last-16 win.

Read Also: AFCON: Egypt quarterfinal clash with Morocco moved forward by CAF

Only when the Cape Verdeans were reduced to nine men by two red cards did Senegal score, and they have failed to find the net in two of four matches.

But a defence marshalled by Napoli centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly with Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy behind him has not conceded a goal — they are the only quarter-finalists to achieve four clean sheets.

Having ended the 35-match unbeaten run of Algeria and upset Mali after a shoot-out, the Equatoguineans will look to outstanding central defenders Saul Coco and Esteban Obiang to contain Mane.

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