Date: January 26th, 2015
Venue: Estadio de Bata
City: Bata, Equatorial Guinea
Time: 20:00 (CAT)
Match Result: DR Congo 1 – 1 Tunisia
Goal Scorers: 0 – 1, Ahmed Akaïchi 31’; 1 – 1, Jeremy Bokila 66’
The GSV Top Class Award
Its always marvellous to watch a player get the call from his gaffer to come off the bench and give his side a lift in whatever position, yet one gets even more joy from watching a forward check in for his side while there are a goal down and instantly change the complexion of the encounter in the favour of his side. Coming on in the 60th minute and bagging his side an equalizer in the 66th, Jeremy Bokila has deservedly earned the GSV Top Class Award for repaying his gaffer’s trust in him and aiding his side in ensuring their passage into the quarter-finals ahead of Cape Verde on goals scored. One would think the forward has earned the right to start in the knockout stage against Congo; for his great endeavour and desire to lead his nation to success, Bokila takes home the GSV Top Class Award.
The GSV Class Clown Award
Since the beginning of the 30th edition of the African Cup of Nations, we have seen a few highly rated forwards fail to lead the line for their respective nations with the high degree of aptitude we had expected to see; for a myriad of reasons, we have seen our fair share of off-form hotshots play far below their own personal benchmarks. One such forward is DR Congo’s Dieumerci Mbokani, an experienced campaigner known to bully defences around and combine great hold-up play with confident and composed finishing at the elite level. None of that class has been evident in the big man thus far, yet he continually makes the starting XI for his nation and continually looks like a man who would benefit from spending some time on the bench. Anonymous in all three encounters, Mbokani has to go down as the most deserving winner of our GSV Class Clown Award; more so for a cumulative showing of poor form throughout the competition than anything. As things stand, the DR Congo will be hoping that the gaffer either chooses to sit him down in the quarter-finals or lights a fire underneath the lad to pick up his socks and add some true value to the side in the clash with Congo.
The Grand Stand View
With the onus on both sides to ensure that they acquire a positive result in order to secure a safe passage into the quarter-final stage, one would have anticipated a cagey affair with neither side looking to give too much away and allow one of the other teams in the group to qualify ahead of them. Tunisia knew that a draw would see them through, and they played as such, sitting back and inviting the DR Congo to attack them before looking to hit their disorganized defensive line on the break. DR Congo on the other hand looked like they were still overly dependant on their talisman Yannick Bolasie to create any meaningful offensive opportunities and the experience of general Yussuf Mulumbu was also sorely missed by a side that knew they held their tournament future in their own hands. The Eagles of Cartage deservingly took the lead on one of the few occasions they looked to play a more attacking game and the DR Congo knew that they now had to start playing at a higher standard if they were to have any chance of breaking down the 5 man Tunisian defensive wall. The rain made it even more difficult for DR Congo to structure any meaningful attacks and they owe a debt of gratitude to their stopper and stand-in skipper Robert Kidiaba for keeping them in the tie. A direct attacking move by DR Congo saw them break down the Tunisian defensive wall and finally get the goal they needed to make inroads towards getting the kind of result they needed to still harbour hopes of qualifying out of the group. In an encounter that many expected to have a great balance of good attacking play and a solid defensive display, both sides will know that they will need improved performances when the come up against Congo and Equatorial Guinea respectively as both of those sides are picking up form and playing at a far superior level than they are in this competition.