2 games, 1 goal: Cup of Nations bores

Ghana's Andre Ayew celebrates scoring a penalty against Uganda in their Africa Cup of Nations group clash. It proved to be the only goal of the match as teams struggle to find the net throughout the tournament.
Ghana's Andre Ayew celebrates scoring a penalty against Uganda in their Africa Cup of Nations group clash. It proved to be the only goal of the match as teams struggle to find the net throughout the tournament.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

PORT GENTIL (Gabon) • Defences were on top again on another dour day at the Africa Cup of Nations on Tuesday, when the two games produced just one goal between them, scored by Ghana from the penalty spot.

Andre Ayew converted the first-half spot kick as the four-time champions scraped a 1-0 win over Uganda, who were making their return to the Finals after a 39-year absence.

"We have the quality and the players, but we will have to do more than we did today," said the West Ham forward, whose side are hoping to end a 35-year wait for their fifth title.

"We have players who have taken part in four, five or six Cup of Nations tournaments and we need use that experience."

Egypt, who had not taken part at the Finals since winning the title in 2010, played out a dreary goalless draw with Mali, remarkable only for the presence of their goalkeeper Essam El Hadary.

The 44-year-old started on the bench but was brought on after Ahmed El Shenawi was injured, becoming the oldest player in the tournament's history.

He beat the previous mark set by fellow Egyptian Hossam Hassan, who was 39 years old when he played in the 2006 edition.

The match was a bruising battle with many mistakes and few openings, and Egypt coach Hector Cuper blamed his side's performance on fatigue.

"Exhaustion was quite clear on my players. I tried to make changes to refresh the team but what I expected did not happen," the Argentinian said.

"The conditions were not really easy, not just because of the result but due to numerous things.

"In the end, it's not what I hoped for but I accept the result."

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 19, 2017, with the headline '2 games, 1 goal: Cup of Nations bores'. Print Edition | Subscribe