The last 16 matches started in Cairo. There were penalties aplenty with the attendant tears and joys to separate the men from the boys.
You have to feel for the lad
That’s what the old pros used to say on the TV or radio in Britain about some cruel deflection or own goal or injury during a match. We suspect they were feeling nothing but bliss in Benin when Hakim Ziyech missed a second-half stoppage time penalty which would have given Morocco a victory at Al Salam Stadium in the last 16. The match went into extra-time and it finished 1-1. Cue penalties. At least Ziyech had some company in the naughty corner. Sofiane Boufal and Youssef En-Nesyri both fluffed their shots in the shoot-out and Benin are in the quarters for the first time.
Shocks don’t need to be “dramatic”
We were itching for the chance to throw in “dramatic”. But the penalty shoot-out between Morocco and Benin was nothing of the sort. Benin walloped them 4-1. So Morocco’s men from the big leagues got a lesson in how to hit the target from the Benin’s boys in the minor championships.
Sadio Mané missed a penalty during Senegal’s 3-0 win over Kenya during the group stages. It was fine because he scored two of the goals – one of which came from a penalty. During the last 16 clash against Uganda, Mané scored Senegal’s first and then mucked up a spot kick in the second half. Fortunately, Senegal managed to advance to the last eight within 90 minutes.
Mustapha Ghorbal dished out several yellow cards during the match between Senegal and Uganda. But it was his failure to brandish one that could have been a talking point. In the 60th minute, Sadio Mané was going round the Uganda goalkeeper Denis Onyango and we all thought here’s the second goal but no, it was in fact Onyango pulling down Mané. After the penalty was awarded, it seemed natural the ref would wave a card and send off Onyango who’d received a caution after five minutes for a foul just outside his area. The Senegal players didn’t really protest that much. That generosity is going to cost them.
Mané strops to conquer
Senegal’s star striker Sadio Mané stomped off down the tunnel straight after the final whistle in the game between Senegal and Uganda. He didn’t even acknowledge the mobile dance hall of Senegal supporters who had dynamically animated a section of the Cairo International Stadium. We later learned he was upset – Sadio even – at having missed his second penalty of the tournament. But, look at it this way. Top of the Cup of Naitons scoring charts with three goals and unchallenged at the head of the fluffed penalty lists. Happier Mané?