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Football | Afcon

Serge Gapke © Backpagepix

Togo make Afcon quarters



Togo have made history by reaching the Africa Cup of Nations quarterfinals for the first time ever, drawing 1-1 with Tunisia in a drama-filled encounter that saw Tunisia miss a penalty kick.

Togo will now face the impressive Burkina Faso in the next round.

Serge Gapke’s opening goal was cancelled out by a Khaled Mouelhi penalty. But Mouelhi went on to his the upright with another penalty in the second half.

The first real scoring chance of the match came in the seventh minute when Serge Gakpe attacked down the left flank and crossed from the byline for Floyd Ayite, but his effort went just wide.

With Togo looking the sharper of the two teams, Emmanuel Adebayor put a shot wide of goal a few minutes later. After good build up play down the right by, the ball found its way to Adebayor, but he could not place his attempt on target.

Then Togo did find the back of the net, although replays show that Serge Gakpe’s run was from a slightly offside position.

It was Adebayor’s through ball, in the 13th minute, that Gakpe ran onto, and swivelled brilliantly as he slid a left-footed shot across goal and into the corner.

Tunisia’s first chance came after 17 minutes when Yousseff Msakni made some space for himself, but was let down by his shot, which trickled harmlessly towards the goalkeeper.

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Shortly afterwards Togo were at it again. A quick counter attacking move saw the ball zip down the right flank before a cross found Adebayor, but the ball took a wicked bounce before he could volley goalwards and his shot skewed wide.

Against the run of play Tunisia won a penalty when Dare Nibombe was adjudged to have pushed Walid Hichri over inside the box during a corner kick scramble, a decision that the Togolese were furious about.

Khaled Mouelhi stepped up and coolly slotted his spot kick to the right of the goalkeeper.

Early in the second half Tunisia had a penalty appeal turned down as Oussama Darragi felt he was fouled, but referee Daniel Bennett was having nothing of his rolling around on the floor.

In the 63rd minute, some great work by Adebayor down the right saw him beat two defenders, but his cross was aimless and Tunisia cleared the danger.

Seven minutes later Adebayor thundered a header onto crossbar after getting onto a right wing cross.

Then the drama unfolded with referee Bennett in the thick of the action. First Adebayor went down under a challenge from the Tunisian goalkeeper. No penalty said the referee, to the dismay of the Togolese.

Soon afterwards, Bennett awarded a penalty on the other side of the field and the Togo team erupted with anger, which saw three yellow cards flashed in a matter of seconds.

But Tunisia’s Khaled Mouelhi put his penalty attempt onto the post, after sending the goalkeeper the wrong way.

Togo keeper Kossi Agassa made two very good saves in optional time to deny Tunisia a winner and the goal that would have taken them into the knockout stage.

Tunisia (1) (Mouelhi 30’ pen)

Togo (1) (Gakpe 13’)

Tunisia: Cherifia; Hichri, Abdennour, Chammam, Kharzi (Dhaouadi 62’); Traoui (Ben Youssef 88’), Mouelhi, Hammami, Msakni; Darragi, Khlifa

Togo: Agassa; Akakpo, Nibombe, Bossou, Djene; Gaffar, Amewou, Romao, Gakpe (J Ayite 75’), F Ayite (Ouro-Akoriko 89’); Adebayor (Wome 90’)

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