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Hosts want to avoid Elephants

by John Tuerijama



Equatorial Guinea captain Juvenal Edjogo-Owono wants to finish the group stage in top spot to avoid a clash with African Cup favourite Ivory Coast in the quarterfinals.
Co-host Equatorial Guinea, the lowest ranked team in the tournament, has made full use of home advantage to beat Libya 1-0 and Senegal 2-1 with dramatic late goals in both matches to guarantee a last-eight berth.
A draw against Zambia in the final Group A game on Sunday (yesterday) will secure top spot. Ivory Coast will also finish first with at least a draw against Angola in the final Group B match on Monday. If both teams finish top, they can only meet in the final.
“We are not afraid of anyone, but none of the players really want to play Ivory Coast at this stage,” Edjogo-Owono told The Associated Press in an interview.
Despite failing to hit top form in edgy wins against Sudan and Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast is Africa’s top-ranked side and has a team packed with Premier League-based players like Didier Drogba, Yaya Toure, Kolo Toure and Salomon Kalou.
In contrast, Equatorial Guinea’s players are largely unknown, with modest careers in places like Spain’s second and third tier, the Brazilian lower leagues and Oman.
“All the supporters are saying they don’t care who we play and that they’re not worried about Ivory Coast,” Edjogo-Owono said. “But we know Ivory Coast are a level above the rest.”
Equatorial Guinea’s performances in the tournament have been a revelation so far, with late victories stoking excitement in the tiny west African nation.
That excitement is boosted by the big teams struggling to impose themselves. Ivory Coast has failed to convince despite two wins, Ghana scraped past Botswana by a single goal and Senegal and Morocco have both been eliminated.
That has encouraged less fancied teams to believe in themselves.
If results go as expected, Equatorial Guinea looks likely to face Angola in the quarterfinals. –