Dream start for co-hosts
Balboa goal gives Equatorial Guinea an opening win
Last Updated: 21/01/12 10:40pm
A late goal from Javier Balboa gave Equatorial Guinea a dream start to the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations as they edged Libya 1-0 in the tournament's opener at the Estadio de Bata on Saturday evening.
The Libyans started the match the brighter of the two sides and put together some silky passing movements, but they lacked the killer instinct up front and Danilo remained largely untroubled.
Nzalang Nacional came into the game as the half went on and Randy set-up a great chance to break the deadlock as the midfielder broke into the area before cutting back for Ivan Bolad, but he could not get the ball out from underneath his feet.
The co-hosts managed to get the ball in the back of the net midway through the first period, but the celebrations were cut short as the linesman had raised his flag for off-side.
It was a difficult one to call, though, as the man who was flagged for the infringement was not directly involved with the play. But it mattered not as the game went on.
The chances continued to go the way of the co-hosts, although the strikers proved woefully wasteful up front, most notably when the ball sat up perfectly for Juvenal Edjogom, but the skipper completely skewed his shot.
Nzalang Nacional lost some of their attacking impetus after the break and looked content to sit back and absorb the pressure, although Libya's battle to break a stubborn back four was proving frustrating for Marcos Paqueta's men.
The co-hosts started to come to life midway through the second period, and Lawrence Doe tested Samir Aboud in the Libya goal with a rasping 40-yard free-kick which drew a splendid save from the goalkeeper.
With 12 minutes left, Iban Iyanga almost snuck home a winner as his cross-come-shot looked to be heading into the top corner, but the Libya shot-stopper again proved the difference between the sides.
Libya's best movement of the game almost proved to be decisive as they worked the ball down the wing before exchanging several passes inside the area, but Ahmed Zuway's poked effort did not have the right direction on it and the danger was gone.
With just three minutes left, though, the co-hosts stole the lead as a trademark counter-attack ended with Javier Balboa being played clean through on goal before opening his body and curling the ball into the very top corner of the net.
The Libyans almost snatched an instant equaliser through Djamal, but his sweetly struck shot crashed off the woodwork and out to safety.
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Equatorial Guinea will replace Morocco as the hosts of the Africa Cup of Nations in 2015.
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Libya were knocked out of the Africa Cup of Nations despite defeating Senegal in their final group game.
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