Newcastle forward Demba Ba looks on during the Barclays Premier league game between Newcastle United and West Bromwich Albion. Ba plays for Senegal against Zambia in the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations on January 21, 2012. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Africa Cup Of Nations 2012, Group A: Equatorial Guinea, Zambia Record Wins

Equatorial Guinea opened the Africa Cup of Nations with a win in front of their home fans, while Zambia pulled off an upset with a victory over loaded Senegal.

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Senegal Vs. Zambia, 2012 Africa Cup Of Nations: Chipolopolo Pull Off First Day Upset

Zambia have put themselves in a brilliant position to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations quarterfinals for the second straight tournament with a surprise 2-1 win over Group A favorites Senegal. While Senegal have perhaps the best striking options in the entire tournament, the rest of their team didn't look up to the task. The Lions' midfield, defense, and goalkeeper Bouna Coundoul were all shocking in the first half, and Zambia's two goals were well deserved.

Emmanuel Mayuka and Rainford Kalaba both provided good finishes, but their opportunities were gifted to them. Mayuka's came in the 12th minute on a header, where the defense inexplicably allowed the 5-foot-9 forward to get his head on a ball on the edge of the six-yard area. The second goal came in the 20th minute, with the Senegal midfield nowhere to be found. Christopher Katongo had plenty of time and space to find Kalaba with a pass, and he finished calmly. Zambia would carry their 2-0 lead into halftime.

FC Copenhagen ace Dame N'Doye got his team back in the game with a great control and near-post finish in the 74th minute, but Senegal wouldn't find an equalizer. Zambia did well to attack an unsettled back line and midfield in the first half, then hold onto their lead against a team that had no deal creator for all of their striking talent.


Equatorial Guinea Vs. Libya, 2012 Africa Cup Of Nations: Hosts Grab Dramatic Winner

The pressure is now on Zambia to perform later on Saturday and in their subsequent matches. At the end of a wide-open match that looked like it would inexplicably end in a 0-0 draw, Equatorial Guinea finally found a late winner in front of their home fans in Bata, with Javier Balboa netting in the 87th minute to give his side a 1-0 victory. Libya will now need a miracle to advance as their strongest games lie ahead of them, while the hosts are in a great position to make the quarterfinals.

Equatorial Guinea had a goal incorrectly disallowed in the first half, when Libya goalkeeper and captain Samir Aboud committed a terrible howler, letting a shot go between his legs. Kily was flagged for offside even though he wasn't interfering with play and the goal was ruled out.

Balboa's finish on the eventual goal was great, but the assist from Daniel Ekedo -- a through-ball from the middle of the pitch to put Balboa one-on-one with Aboud -- was absolutely brilliant. Ekedo incredibly entered the game just one minute before providing the assist, coming on for injured captain Bodipo. After being released into a one-on-one situation, Balboa finished emphatically with a hard shot into the back of the net, giving his team the lead.

Libya had a couple of desperation chances late, as well as a penalty shout, but Abdallah Sharif was correctly booked for a dive in that instance. The game actually featured a fair bit of diving and shenanigans from Libya, all of which was to no avail. Equatorial Guinea hit the post twice in addition to their winner and their wrongly disallowed goal, so their victory was well deserved.

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