Africa Cup of Nations: Five things we learned on Day 12

·3-min read

1, 2, 3 Bye, Bye Algérie. And Gambia upset the form books to beat 10-man Tunisia.

Mirror, Mirror

There's a magnificent episode of the Star Trek sci-fi series from the 1960s in which Captain Kirk and three of his Starship Enterprise crew are transported onto their vessel which exists in an alternative universe. Perhaps that's where the actual Algeria team is. Because the players who have been in Cameroon are light years away from the operators who conquered all before them in Egypt in 2019. It's one thing to lose but so abjectly? Trailing 2-0 at half-time, urgency was expected after the break. But Cote D'Ivoire looked the more likely to score and they did to make it 3-0. Riyad Mahrez's botched penalty in the 60th minuite summed up Algeria's campaign. Maybe they'll be beamed back in time for the next Cup of Nations.

Partey spirit

Thomas Partey was among the disconsolate group of Ghana players on Day 10 who trudged around the Stade Roumdé Adjia in Garoua after Comoros had beaten them 3-2 to send the Black Stars out of the Cup of Nations following the group stages for the first time since 2006. What's a man to do after such a hit? Travel to London and take to a playing field to contest the second leg of the League Cup semi-final for Arsenal against Liverpool. Such enthusiasm. And a red card in a 2-0 defeat. Not a great 48 hours.

No little teams

That's what the managers keep saying. And we must believe. But oh to be into betting. What would the odds have been on Ghana and Algeria not in the last 16 but Gambia and Comoros there instead? The past dozen days at the Cup of Nations have been so refreshing. They have yielded such twists.

Ranking Full Stop

The review's not missing a beat. From here on we promise not to mention where anyone lies in the ratings. Gambia entered the competition in 150th place in the Fifa charts - the lowest of the 24 teams in Cameroon. But the Scorpions - as they are nicknamed - got their first Cup of Nations campaign off to a great start with a win over Mauritania and followed it up with a draw with Mali. And Gambians will tell the tale for a long time of Ablie Jallow's stoppage time winner against Tunisia. Such a sweet strike, the keeper Bechir Ben Said did not even move.

And then there were 16

Another competition begins after the last-16 line-up was finalised. If it's all square after extra-time, it will be the drama of the penalty shoot-out. Despite their loss to Gambia, Tunisia scraped through as one of the four best third-placed teams. Nigeria await them in Garoua. Hosts Cameroon will face Comoros and there'll be a corker in Douala between Cote D'Ivoire and Egypt. Other ties include Burkina Faso v Gabon, Senegal against Cape Verde and Morocco will pit their wits against Malawi. Group F winners Mali will vie with Equatorial Guinea for a place in the last eight. See, no mention of rankings.

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