Hosts Côte d’Ivoire pulls off a monumental upset by defeating defending champions Senegal 5-4 on penalties

* What matters is that we have qualified—Côte d’Ivoire’s Jean-Michael Seri

* A late Ryan Mendes penalty gave Cape Verde a dramatic 1-0 victory over Mauritania

Maravi Express

In front of a raucous home crowd at the Stade Charles Konan Banny in Yamoussoukro, Senegal made a blistering start and took the lead just 4 minutes in but hosts Côte d’Ivoire fought back and pulled off a monumental upset by defeating defending champions Senegal 5-4 on penalties after extra time to advance to the CAF Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) quarter-finals.


In the other Round of 16, a late Ryan Mendes penalty gave Cape Verde a dramatic 1-0 victory over Mauritania in a tense clash at the Felix Houphouet-Boigny Stadium in which the two sides were deadlocked at 0-0 as the game entered the closing stages.

At the Stade Charles Konan Banny, a superb cross from Senegal’s Sadio Mane found Habib Diallo, who calmly chested the ball down before firing a rocket into the top corner.

Stunned by conceding so early, the hosts gradually grew into the game with neat interplay in midfield between Franck Kessie and Jean Michael Seri.

Ibrahim Sangare posed a constant threat on the wing while strikers Sebastien Haller and Nicolas Pepe stretched Senegal’s defence.

The Elephants had the better of the first half but despite several near misses, a Senegalese wall of Kalidou Koulibaly and Abdou Diallo repelled everything thrown at them. 0-1 at halftime.


Senegal almost doubled their lead early in the second half when a speculative Ismaila Sarr effort forced a fingertip save.

But Côte d’Ivoire were unfazed and continued pressing and the game turned on a pivotal 86th minute moment when Pepe burst into the box and was clumsily brought down by Edouard Mendy.

After VAR reviewed the incident, Franck Kessie coolly sent Mendy the wrong way from the spot to equalize and send the home crowd into ecstasy.

In extra time, chances came and went for both sides but the scores remained level and in the shootout, each side netted their first 4 penalties.

But when Kalifa Coulibaly’s effort came off the upright, Kessie stepped up to smash home the winning kick, capping a remarkable turnaround for the hosts.

After a disastrous group stage, Côte d’Ivoire showed tremendous resilience and spirit to dethrone Senegal, who will have to relinquish their title — the Elephants march on, redemption complete.

Few gave the Elephants hope coming into this last 16 clash against star-studded Senegal but led by captain Serge Aurier, the spirited hosts fought until the end and rode their luck at times against profligate opponents.

What matters is that we have qualified—Côte d’Ivoire’s Jean-Michael Seri

Midfielder, Jean-Michael Seri — who was awarded the Man of the Match award — says despite the team advancing on penalties, what matters is that they have qualified for the quarter finals: “We did not start the match well, and after we conceded the goal, we responded to that, and we took control of the match, with a team performance.

“It doesn’t matter how we qualified, what matters is that we qualified. We were just calm. At halftime, the coach asked us to continue in the same way. We were very solid and united and fought for our nation.

“The important thing is that we qualified for the quarter-finals. Côte d’Ivoire qualified for the next round, and this is the most important thing for me.”

Meanwhile, in the other Round of 16 match, Cape Verde had dominated possession and chances, with Jovane Cabral having a goal disallowed for offside in the opening minutes — but Mauritania’s defence held firm.

As the match wore on, Cape Verde continued to press while Mauritania posed threats on the counter attack. Both sets of passionate fans roared their teams on, but a winner still eluded both.

The breakthrough finally came in the 87th minute when Mauritania keeper Babacar Niasse brought down Gilson Tavares in the box and captain Ryan Mendes stepped up to smash home the penalty and make it 1-0.

With the Mourabitounes now forced to chase the game, Cape Verde stood firm to see out a famous victory and advance to the quarter-finals for the second time, where they will face either Morocco or South Africa on Saturday.

Cape Verde have won their first knockout game ever at the AFCON — after losing 2-0 each time, against Ghana in 2013 and against Senegal in the 2021 edition. The Blue Sharks have won three of their last four AFCON encounters (D1), more wins than in their first 11 (D6 L3).

Mauritania have not found the net in 70% of their AFCON games (7/10), only Guinea-Bissau register an higher ratio (75% – 9/12) among the teams which have played at least 10 encounters in the competition’s history.—Reporting by CAFonline