Ivory Coast & Gambia secure opening wins

African Football

Ivory Coast opened their Group E campaign on a winning note after edging Equatorial Guinea 1-0 at Japoma Stadium.

The Elephants lined-up in attacking 4-3-3 formation, with Max Gradel and Burnley forward Maxwel Cornet flanking Ajax Amsterdam striker Sebastien Haller upfront, while Premier League stars Wilfried Zaha and Nicolas Pepe started from the bench.

Gradel gave Cote d'Ivoire a perfect start with the opener in the fifth minute after firing a rocket into the top corner from a loose ball on the edge of the box.

Equatorial Guinea were threatening to get back into the game and were denied a penalty by the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) after the ball appeared to hit the hand of an Ivory Coast defender.

The Elephants largely weathered the storm in the second stanza and Ibrahim Sangare had a chance to put the game to bed in the closing minutes but his curled was saved by goalkeeper Manuel Sapunga.

Ivory Coast will next be in action against Sierra Leone on Sunday while Equatorial Guinea will have another tough encounter against Algeria.

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Mauritania 0-1 Gambia

Gambia marked their debut in the competition with a 1-0 triumph over Mauritania on Wednesday evening.

There were a couple familiar names in Gambian's line-up, including Mussa Barrow and Assan Ceesay.

However, it was Abdoulie Jallow who got the nation's first-ever goal at the competition in the 10th minute with an impressive strike.

Tunisia 0-1 Mali

Mali overcame Tunisia in their Group F encounter that was marred by controversial referee decisions.

Mali got the opening goal from the penalty spot in the 48th minute though Ibrahima Kone.

The Tunisians were awarded a penalty of their own in the 77th minute, but Wahbi Khazri saw his effort saved by Ibrahim Mounkoro.

The game really took a turn for the worse when the referee blew for full-time in the 85th minute, but the game had resumed a few minutes later.

The Eagles were then reduced to 10 men when El Bilal Toure was shown a straight red card. Meanwhile, the Tunisians were left angered once again when the referee blew for full-time in the 89th minute of the contest with no stoppage time to play.