April 20, 2024

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Cape Verde Pulls Off Stunning Victory Against Mozambique, Securing Afcon Last-16 Berth

Cape Verde s forward #21 Bebe fights for the ball with Mozambique s defender #8 Edmilson Dove during the Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) 2024 group B football match between Cape Verde and Mozambique at the Felix Houphouet-Boigny Stadium in Abidjan on January 19, 2024. AFP

Cape Verde defeated Mozambique, with Bebe scoring a 40-yard free kick, to become the first team to qualify for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations last-16.

The former Manchester United striker smashed in a shot that keeper Ernan Siluane should have saved.

Captain Ryan Mendes took advantage of a defensive lapse to double their lead.

Kevin Pina then hammered a brilliant strike into the top corner from outside the box to secure the victory in Abidjan.

Geny Catamo delivered some of Mozambique’s best moments. He won a penalty in the first half, but it was overturned by the video assistant referee (VAR), hit the crossbar with a free kick, and had one of their two shots on goal.

Cape Verde’s victory secures top spot in Group B, ahead of former champions Egypt and Ghana, with one game remaining.

The Blue Sharks face the North Africans in their final group match on Monday (20:00 GMT), knowing that they will face a third-place finisher from Group A, C, or D in the round of 16 seven days later.

Bebe (left) made his Cape Verde debut in 2022, after previously representing Portugal at the youth level.

Cape Verde surprising winners of tough group

Nobody expected the Blue Sharks to win a group containing Egypt and Ghana with one game remaining, but that is exactly what happened.

Bubista’s team, ranked 73rd in the world, is in its fourth Africa Cup of Nations, having advanced from the group stage in three of them.

Cape Verde, who defeated Ghana, and Mozambique, who drew with Egypt, both entered this game full of confidence after strong opening performances.

However, the Mambas, ranked 111th in the FIFA rankings, were soundly defeated this time around.

Bebe, who made his Cape Verde debut in 2022 after switching international allegiance from Portugal, hit the crossbar with a free-kick before scoring from long range thanks to some poor goalkeeping.

The islanders never looked back after that, with Witi having Mozambique’s only shot on goal until Geny forced a save in injury time.

Egypt and Ghana, with two and one points, could both advance, with the four best third-placed teams qualifying for the round of 16.

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