THE DAY REPLAYED – Egypt emerged victorious from their Group D duel with Ghana to leapfrog their opponents – who finished as runners-up in the section – and secure top spot. Elsewhere, Uganda picked up their first point of this year’s CAF Africa Cup of Nations versus Mali, who are now eliminated from the competition.
FIFA.com takes a look back at the two Gabon 2017 fixtures played on Wednesday.
The day’s results
Egypt 1-0 Ghana
Uganda 1-1 Mali
Port-Gentil welcomed two giants of African football, as Egypt and Ghana locked horns with the aim of claiming first place in their section. Focused and committed, the Black Stars were nevertheless taken by surprise after ten minutes, when Mohamed Salah fired home a powerful free-kick. The goal changed the tone of the game, with Ghana unable to find a way past the solid Egyptian rearguard, whose disciplined play enabled the Pharaohs to swiftly transform defence into attack throughout the remainder of the encounter.
Daniel Amartey and Jordan Ayew did briefly manage to bring Egyptian custodian Essam El Hadary out in a cold sweat, but Hector Cuper’s men, inspired by Salah, will be delighted to have got their tactics right overall. Consequently, Ghana, who had already qualified, drop from first to second in Group D and must now lock horns with Congo DR in the quarter-finals. Egypt, meanwhile, will go looking for their third win in a row when they take on Morocco on Sunday.
Uganda headed into their match with Mali determined to eke out a point or three as they bid farewell to Gabon 2017. The Malians still entertained slim hopes of qualifying, but needed to win and hope that Ghana could defeat Egypt, but they were slow to get going in Oyem, in a first half devoid of notable action.
In the second half, Farouk Miya (Uganda) and Yves Bissouma (Mali) got the crowd off their feet with eye-catching goals that would eventually cancel each other out. While the Ugandans leave Gabon on a positive note, third-placed Mali will likely look back on their campaign with a sense of missed opportunity.
Highlight of the day
Ghana goalkeeper Brimah Razak could not do much about Mohamed Salah’s tremendous winning strike – a candidate for goal of the tournament – for Egypt in Port-Gentil. The Roma winger produced a piledriver of a free-kick for the seven-time African champions early on in the match, sending the ball high into the roof of the net to give his side the lead in style.
39 – Uganda’s Cup of Nations adventure, their first in 39 years, ended with a fourth-place finish in what was a challenging pool. The last time they appeared on this stage, in 1978, the Cranes pulled off one of the greatest feats in the country’s sporting history, making it all the way to the final, where they eventually lost to Ghana.
(all times local)
Saturday 28 January
Burkina Faso-Tunisia (17.00)
Sunday 29 January
Congo DR-Ghana (17.00)
The winners of the CAF Africa Cup of Nations Gabon 2017 will represent the continent at the FIFA Confederations Cup Russia 2017.