Nobody really expected Equatorial Guinea to do well against the Ivory Coast in their Africa Cup of Nations quarterfinal, but then again, nobody really expected the co-hosts to make it this far anyway. The Elephants might have won all three of their group stage matches, but they've yet to really fire on all three cylinders and show the world just what makes them a class above most teams at the tournament.
That was the story of the first half as well, where star striker Didier Drogba missed a penalty as Eq. Guinea gave just as good as they got, regularly threatening Boubacar Barry's net. Drogba made up for his miss by blowing up Lauren Doe and Rui and finishing inside Danilo's near post ten minutes before halftime, but the goal didn't seem to deflate Eq. Guinea, who were still fighting hard well into the second half.
Drogba's second, however, was a killer. The big man sent in an absolutely brilliant header from a harmless looking free kick with 70 minutes gone, and from that point on the Ivory Coast ran rampant. Yaya Toure managed to make it 3-0 with a wonderful free kick that swerved its way off the upright and in to put a gloss on the scoreline, and the Elephants ultimately cruised into the semifinal against Zambia in style. That's four wins in a row to start this tournament for the Ivory Coast, and you'd have to put them as favourites to win it all at this point. Eq. Guinea can be very proud of themselves for fighting so hard, but ultimately it was nowhere near enough to trouble Drogba, Toure and company.
For the first time since 1996, Zambia is through to the semifinals in the Africa Cup of Nations. Emmanuel Mayuka and Christopher Kotongo were not at the top of their games against Sudan on Saturday in their quarterfinal encounter, but Sudan was never really involved in the match, and the gap in quality between the two teams was obvious. Zambia coasted to a 3-0 victory, with both goals coming from dead balls.
Copper Bullets defender Stophira Sunzu scored the opening goal after just 15 minutes on a fantastic set piece. Running onto a ball played to the near post, Sunzu got between the goalkeeper and the nearest defender, then headed the ball powerfully behind him into the back of the net from a narrow angle. The game settled down after that, with Zambia cruising into halftime up 1-0.
Sudan's best spell came just after halftime, but they were never able to find a breakthrough before Saifeldin Ali Idris Farah gave away a penalty and got himself sent off in the 65th minute. Katongo stepped up and had his initial penalty brilliantly saved by Akram El Hadi Salem, but no Sudan players moved after it was taken. Katongo followed his shot and scored on the rebound, giving Zambia what was ultimately a clinching goal. They would add another in the 86th minute, with substitute James Chamanga scoring with a very tidy finish.
Zambia awaits the winner of Ghana - Tunisia, which will be played on Sunday.