Bata - Congo striker Thievy Bifouma grabbed a late equaliser in a 1-1 draw to deny
hosts Equatorial Guinea a rousing start to the African Nations Cup finals at
the Estadio de Bata on Saturday.
They led with a 17th minute goal from English-based captain Emilio Nsue but
their defence was finally breached in the 87th, ending the celebrations of a
capacity crowd almost exclusively clad in their team's red colours.
The small central African nation, handed a place at the finals after
stepping in as emergency hosts, were fortunate to lead as replays showed Nsue
was just offside when he scored.
Bifouma earned Congo a deserved draw after outpacing the defence and they
might even have got the winner two minutes later but Dominque Malonga
squandered a golden chance.
Bifouma, who spent most of the game moaning at the match officials, sped
away to place the ball under home goalkeeper Felipe Ovono and just inside the
post to stun the crowd.
Substitute Malonga should have secured all three points for Congo on the
stroke of full time but fired straight at Ovono from in front of the posts.
The game began with a dramatic goal for the underrated home side as Nsue, a
former Spanish under-21 international playing at Middlesbrough, swept in a
clever pass from winger Kike after his probing run at the defence to sweep aside
all the organisational problems that clouded the build-up to the event.
Equatorial Guinea could have killed the game with the first chance of the
second half when Balboa was one-on-one with the keeper but his effort was well
saved by Christoffer Mafoumbi.
Balboa also created a chance for Nsue to get behind the opposing defence
with a clever chip over the top in the 70th minute but again the effort was
Nsue did find the net four minutes later with a clever lob but was wrongly
The home side's failure to extend their lead meant Congo's hopes remained
alive and eventually they broke through for the equaliser.
The second Group A game between Burkina Faso and Gabon kicks off at 21:00