CAN 2024: Nigeria and the DRC in the last four

4:40 p

CAN 2024: Nigeria and the DRC in the last four

4:40 p.m., plastic chairs are taken over. Under the huge marquee of the Jacques Aka cultural center in Bouaké, the second city of Côte d'Ivoire, more than three hundred people are already seated in front of the giant screen to follow the first two posters of the quarter-finals of the Coupe d'Ivoire. Africa of Nations (CAN) which opposed, Friday February 2, Nigeria to Angola (victory of the Super Eagles 1-0), then the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to Guinea which lost 3-1 .

While waiting for kick-off, a group sets the mood by covering Zizi gragnon, a VDA song. We sing, we warm up before hoping to thrill while watching the duels. A few minutes from Nigeria-Angola, a slammer arrives on stage, declaims, drags on. The match started three minutes ago and the public gently heckles him to cut it short. Then, a musician wants to “give a gift”: play a piece on the flute. " At halftime ! », we shout at him.

We finally hear the commentary of the match, and from the first minutes, the Angolan chances send shivers through the room. The match is quite closed, there are a few chances from the Super Eagles, but the Black Antelopes remain solid. Everything changes in the 40th: Moses Simon clears an Angolan, waits before serving Ademola Lookman behind. The attacker does not miss the target (1-0). Nigeria is in front, part of the public stands up.

Angolans too feverish

Half time. The master of ceremonies takes the microphone and announces a surprise: the presence of a 1998 world champion. French goalkeeper Bernard Lama arrives, acclaimed by the numerous volunteers and the public. A local star is also there: Serey Die, winner of the CAN with the Elephants in 2015, is warmly applauded.

The former Ivorian international has a message to pass on to young people regarding the quarter-final between Mali and Ivory Coast scheduled for Bouaké the next day: “Whatever the result, we will have to remain stable. If you meet a Malian in the street, party with him. » Then, he mentions the broken buses after the defeat of the Ivorians (0-4) against Equatorial Guinea in Abidjan. “The President of the Republic does not get on a bus, the ministers do not get on the bus, it’s us,” he says to applause. Tomorrow after the match, I want the same smiles. »

Reprise. Nigeria imposes its power, Angola seems to be sinking. How will this so far undefeated team find the solution? Perhaps in the 59th minute, but Angolan striker Zini's shot hits the post. The Antelopes have not capitulated but are beginning to fold. 74th, on a free kick from Lookman (still him), masked attacker Victor Osimhen scores with a header. The goal is refused for a (very slight) offside. Nigeria is not yet safe.

Angola is too feverish, imprecise; Nigeria is concentrated. In the last minutes and after a few changes, Angola pushes, builds its game better. Osimhen is exhausted and in the room, which has emptied, we want to believe in the return of the Portuguese speakers. That won't be enough: the Angolan game was not flamboyant, probably crushed by the stakes. Nigeria wins and goes to the semi-final.

The Leopards in great shape

The music group has already returned to the stage. The evening is not over: in a few minutes, the DRC faces Guinea, but there is no one left under the marquee. This quarter does not interest many people, the spectators have gone to dinner in the city's maquis. And that's a shame.

20 hours and a few seconds after kick-off, the Guineans almost opened the score; two minutes later, Leopard Yoane Wissa could also have scored after a mistake by the opposing defense. No player will save time on the Ebimpé pitch.

Guinea confiscates the ball, builds its game without panicking and on a cross from Ibrahim Diakité, Mohamed Bayo collapses, pushed by Chancel Mbemba, the captain of the DRC: the Algerian referee, Mustapha Ghorbal, whistles the penalty without hesitation (17th), immediately transformed by Bayo (0-1) who scored his third goal in the tournament. In the Bouaké fan zone, among the very few people watching the match, a Guinean supporter, probably the only one, dives to the ground with joy.

Even when led, the DRC does not become demoralized. From a corner, and from a tight angle, Chancel Mbemba does himself justice and equalizes with a sublime left-footed shot (27th). This goal is good for the Leopards who are regaining color in this match.

After the break, the pace of the meeting becomes intense again. Both teams want it. Is this the turning point of the match? In the 60th minute, Guinea missed a huge opportunity, and on the counter, the Congolese Silas Katompa Mvumpa moved up the field in a ride as technical as it was powerful. Broke in the penalty area, the referee whistles the penalty without hesitation. Yoane Wissa, the man in good shape, scores and gives the Leopards the advantage (2-1).

And the KO arrived in the 82nd. On a free kick, the Congolese Arthur Masuaku deceives the Guinean goalkeeper with a luminous strike – with a strange trajectory. The DRC has just knocked out their opponent (3-1) and qualified for the last four of the CAN by winning their first match of the tournament.

In Bouaké, everyone is impatiently awaiting the only match that matters to them: the Eagles of Mali against their Elephants. Besides, there are no more tickets for sale. The fan zone promises to explode.