Sports Sierra Leone and debutant Gambia the African Cup surprises
The United States excludes Ethiopia, Mali and Guinea of Agoa
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DOUALA, Cameroon (AP) — Sierra Leone capitalized on a terrible goalkeeper error deep in injury time for a 2-2 draw against two-time champion Ivory Coast on Sunday in another major surprise at the African Cup of Nations.
Ivorian goalkeeper Badra Ali Sangaré stumbled and fell while trying to gather a header back from one of his defenders that was going out for a corner, and the ball slipped out of his grasp. Alhaji Kamara was there to score the equalizer in the 93rd minute, after also slipping himself.
Sierra Leone is enjoying its first appearance at the African Cup in 26 years. It held defending champion Algeria 0-0 in its first game in Group E.
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Having been seconds away from victory, Ivory Coast clung on to avoid defeat amid chaos at the end when Sangaré was taken off on a stretcher after hurting himself giving the goal away. Defender Serge Aurier had to stand in as goalkeeper for the remaining minute as Ivory Coast had used all its substitutions.
Sierra Leone isn't the only team throwing up big surprises at the African championship in Cameroon.
Gambia, playing in its first major tournament ever, held Mali 1-1 earlier Sunday and surprisingly leads Group F ahead of the Malians and former champion Tunisia.
Tunisia recovered convincingly from its opening loss to Mali to beat Mauritania 4-0, aided by a double from captain Wahbi Khazri.
But no one would have thought that debutant Gambia, previously best known for being the smallest country in mainland Africa, would be topping that group heading into the final group games.
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Ivory Coast imploded despite controlling the late stages against Sierra Leone and having worked so hard to get itself into a winning position.
Franck Kessié of AC Milan missed a penalty for Ivory Coast in the 12th minute, or rather saw it saved brilliantly by Sierra Leone 'keeper Mohamed Kamara, the hero of the draw against mighty Algeria.
Ajax forward Sébastien Haller did eventually put Ivory Coast ahead in the 25th.
But Musa Kamara thundered an equalizer into the net for Sierra Leone in the 55th and Ivory Coast had to battle again.
Nicolas Pépé seemed to have won it with his smoothly taken goal only for Sangaré's blunder to change it all at the end.
Ivory Coast would have been in the knockout stages if it had held on for the win but must now face defending Algeria in its final group game with its fate still in the balance.
Algeria plays Equatorial Guinea later Sunday in its second group game.
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The Associated Press
Tunisia knocks Nigeria out of African Cup .
GAROUA, Cameroon (AP) — Nigeria's 100% record in the group stage meant nothing as it was knocked out 1-0 by Tunisia in the last 16 of the African Cup of Nations on Sunday. Youssef Msakni's low, swerving shot just after halftime was the only goal, leaving Nigerian players slumped on the field in disappointment at the end. Nigeria's task was made even harder when Everton's Alex Iwobi was shown a straight red card for raking his studs down the ankle of Msakni in the 66th minute. Iwobi was sent off seven minutes after he arrived as a substitute. Nigeria had emerged as maybe the top contender for the title after it was the only team to win all its group games.