Equatorial Guinea look to continue giant-killing escapades against Senegal

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Equatorial Guinea surprised many when they pulled shock wins against defending champions Algeria in the group stages of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations and continued their form against Mali in the Last 16 round to book a quarterfinal date with Senegal. 

But if there is anyone who would not be as surprised by the National Thunder, as Equatorial Guinea are known, it would be the Senegalese national team. 

Ten years ago, as lowly-regarded Afcon debutants Equatorial Guinea reached the quarterfinals of that edition of the tournament at the expense of the Teranga Lions of Senegal.  

Amid wet conditions at the Estadio de Bata Stadium, Senegal thought they were back in the game when Moussa Sow levelled matters on the 89th minute after Randy Iyanda had scored for the National Thunder on the 27 minutes earlier. 

However, four minutes into stoppage time, Equatorial Guinea’s David Alvarez fired in a rocket from outside the box to put the game beyond Senegal and book their first-ever quarterfinal spot. 

Despite having one of the revered players in their team, Sadio Mane, Senegal have failed to set the house on fire in Cameroon with two win and two draw and a paltry three goals so far in the tournament. Perhaps their strongers attribute going into this country, which also seems to be the approach most African teams are disappointingly taking, is their water-tight defence that has yet to let through a goal since they arrive in Cameroon. 

 According the Senegalese coach, Aliou Cissé, the Lions of Teranga have gained good momentum in the tournament to help them realise their dream of qualifying for the semifinals.  

“We are going to approach this match as we have done before, with humility and confidence. We will play against a good team from Equatorial Guinea that we know well. We have great respect for this team which has good players. We have been gaining momentum since the start of the competition and we will play our best football to get to the semi-finals. Sadio Mané is doing better. We hope to get him back for tomorrow’s game.” 

But his counterpart, Juan Micha believes Equatorial Guinea are ready. 

“Our team is ready, both physically and mentally. We respect Senegal, runners up of the previous edition. It will be a final for us, and we will play our game to put on a good match and go as far as possible. It’s true that we won against Senegal in 2012 AFCON but we are not the favorites this time.” 

The National Thunder go into this encounter boasting three clean sheets, but having only scored two goals. 

Match Facts: 

This will be just the second encounter at the Africa Cup of Nations between Senegal and Equatorial Guinea, with the National Thunder winning the previous such game, in the group stages in 2012 (2-1). 

Senegal have progressed from three of their last five quarter-final matches at the Africa Cup of Nations, while they’re looking to reach the semi-finals in consecutive tournaments for the first time. 

Equatorial Guinea have lost just one of their last five Africa Cup of Nations games (W2 D2), keeping four clean sheets and conceding just once – more shutouts than they managed in their previous nine matches in the competition combined (3). 

Since the start of the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations, Senegal have won more games (9) and kept more clean sheets (12) than any other team. 

Sadio Mané has scored 44% of Senegal’s goals (7/16 excluding own goals) at the Africa Cup of Nations since 2017, while none of his teammates have scored more than once in this time. – additional reporting by CAFONLINE