The Northern port city of Garoua played host to an anticlimactic 0-0 draw between Sudan and Guinea-Bissau at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon), with a late Pelé penalty miss being the biggest chance in an otherwise uneventful encounter.
Neutral spectators will be wondering when this tournament will catch fire, with only nine goals registered to date across eight games in total, but Guinea-Bissau started off looking determined to make a telling contribution. In particular, Mama Baldé was full of trickery in the opening minutes, and drew a foul from a frustrated opponent in the 17th minute. The West-African men should have scored from the resulting free-kick, but an unmarked Joseph Mendes made a mess of a free header and hit the post with a ball off his shoulder.
It took until first-half stoppage time for Sudan to really test deputising goalkeeper Maurice Gomis on his 1st cap for Guinea-Bissau, as Abdel Rahman unleashed a venomous shot from 20 yards. Inspired by that late flourish, Sudan started to turn the tide in the second half, and looked closer to breaking the deadlock. Abdel Rahman was instrumental in everything good for the ‘Falcons of Jedaine’, and was played through once again. Gomis took the unnecessary risk of waiting for the ball to enter the box before picking up. He seemingly brought down Abdel Rahman, only for the Senegalese referee to wave it away.
Substitute Steve Ambri gave the ‘Djurtus’ a chance of winning it from the spot, when Ali Abu-Eshrein clattered into him after being played through on goal. It was Pelé who stepped up, but in stark contrast to the genius of his world-famous namesake, his woeful penalty following a painful stuttering run-up was saved by Abu-Eshrein, who made up for his earlier error.
Both sides now face an uphill battle in qualification, with Afcon giants Nigeria and Egypt up next. Sudan will require similar giant-killing inspiration from qualification, when they defeated both Ghana and South Africa within the final three games, to take their place in the knockouts.