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2002 African Nations Cup
Senegal oust Nigeria in dramatic semifinal
Olembe double leads Cameroon into Nations Cup final

By Brian Homewood
© Reuters Limited

Three players were sent off as Senegal, playing with a man less for more than one hour, beat Nigeria 2-1 on Thursday in a stormy and dramatic match to reach the African Nations Cup final.

Senegal striker El Hadj Ousseynou Diouf (front) controls the ball in front of Nigerian defenders.
Photo Antony Njuguna, Reuters
In a passionate game littered with violent tackles and incidents of play-acting, Pape Bouba Diop headed Senegal in front early in the second half before an 88th-minute equaliser from Julius Aghahowa earned Nigeria a stay of execution.

Alissane Diao restored Senegal's lead seven minutes into extra time before, in a final twist, Nigeria substitute Wilson Oruma missed a penalty. The golden goal rule is not used in the tournament.

Senegal played for more than an hour with a man less after midfielder Pape Sarr was controversially sent off for elbowing.

But Nigeria finished with nine men after Aghahowa and Ifeanyi Udeze were dismissed in extra time.

In a match between two countries heading for this year's World Cup, Senegal outplayed their opponents and regained their composure after a fiery end to the first half when two key decisions went against them.

Nigerian Taribo West (L) tries to control the ball with Senegal's Camara Henri (R).
Photo Antony Njuguna, Reuters
In the 35th minute, Sarr was dismissed for elbowing Garba Lawal as the pair tussled for the ball.

Lawal went down clutching his head but television replays showed that no contact was made and, although there was a loose elbow from Sarr, it did not look deliberate. Sarr pushed the referee and had to be restrained by his team mates from punching the official.

Senegal claimed Aghahowa should have been sent off for a lunging challenge on Ferdinand Coly on the stroke of halftime but the Ukrainian-based striker escaped with a booking, leading to more Senegalese protests and another scuffle.

The Lions, with a team made up entirely of French-based professionals, had started strongly as Henri Camara hit the post with a dipping shot in the second minute and Khalilou Fadiga wasted an excellent close-range chance in the 17th.

Nigeria's Austin Okocha also hit the post with swerving free-kick in the 26th minute but, after a disappointing display, was substituted in the second half.

Nigeria's best spell came after halftime when Finidi George, Nwankwo Kanu and Aghahowa all missed good chances. Then Diop outjumped Nigeria's defence to head in Fadiga's inswinging corner in the 54th minute.

Nigerian Nwanko Kanu (R) plays the ball close to the goal with Senegal's defender Lamine Diatta (L).
Photo Antony Njuguna, Reuters
With two minutes to go, Aghahowa silenced the largely pro-Senegal crowd when he pounced on a defensive mix-up to equalise and celebrated with his trademark back-flips.

The drama continued in extra time.

After seven minutes, Diao played a one-two with El Hadj Ousseynou Diouf and, although he mis-hit his shot, the ball trickled into the net.

One minute after the break, Kanu was up-ended but Oruma rolled a weak penalty-kick against the post. Almost immediately, Aghahowa was sent off for a wild challenge on Omar Daf.

Nigeria were reduced to nine when another ugly clash led to Udeze's red card and Senegal held out for a famous win.

Olembe double leads Cameroon into Nations Cup final
By Mark Gleeson

Salomon Olembe was Cameroon's hero on Thursday as his two goals helped the defending champions reach the African Nations Cup final with a comfortable 3-0 win over hosts Mali.

The left wing struck twice inside five minutes at the end of the first half to ensure a return to the final for the Indomitable Lions, who will play Senegal in Bamako on Sunday to decide the continental title.

Marc-Vivien Foe scored the third goal for Cameroon.
Photo Antony Njuguna, Reuters
Midfielder Marc-Vivien Foe scored the third goal five minutes from time to seal an emphatic triumph.

While Olembe provided the finishing touches to the first two goals, it was replacement striker Pius Ndiefi who set the holders on their way to victory.

The French-based forward, making a rare start in place of the injured Patrick Mboma, created both opening goals with his place and deft passing.

He gave an early indication of his ability with a speedy burst down the right wing, but shot straight into the side netting after 15 minutes.

On 40 minutes, however, he created the same confusion in the Mali defence, breezing past the high-rated Boubacar Diarra before laying the ball back perfectly for Olembe to apply the finishing touch.

Cameroon striker Marc-Vivien Foe fights for the ball with Mali's Seydou Keita during their African Nations Cup semi-final at the 26 Match stadium in Bamako, February 7, 2002. Cameroon beat Mali 3-0.
Photo Juda Ngwenya, Reuters
On the stroke of halftime it was Ndiefi again, this time accelerating quickly through the middle before exchanging passes with Olembe, who finished from close range.

When Ndiefi was taken off towards the end of the game, Cameroon coach Winfried Schafer doffed an imaginary cap at the Sedan striker and applauded him all the way to the bench.

Cameroon twice hit the crossbar in the last 20 minutes before Foe scored the third goal as if to emphasise his team's complete dominance.

First Samuel Eto'o hit the underside of the crossbar after connecting with a cross from Real Madrid fullback Geremi Fotso Njitap. Then, with eight minutes left, Lauren Etame Mayer's shot hit the upright and bounced back into play as Cameroon again caught the home defence napping.

A long ball upfield from substitute Partick Suffo set up Foe, whose strength took him past Mali goalkeeper Mahamadou Sidibe before tapping the ball into an empty net.

The hosts, playing under a burden of heavy expectation, seemed overawed by the occasion. Veteran midfielder Bassala Toure twice came close to scoring midway through the first half but Mali had just one shot on target - from Djibril Sidibe - after the interval.

Cameroon had earlier threatened not to play the game after a series of bizarre incidents involving members of their squad and the local police.

Goalkeeping coach Thomas Nkono was handcuffed after a fight with at least 10 policemen on the pitch ahead of the match.

Cameroon players also clashed with police some 90 minutes before the kickoff as they attempted to get on to the pitch for a walkabout ahead of the match in the March 26 stadium.

Nkono, who played in goal for Cameroon at two World Cup finals, was accused by the police of dropping 'magic' on to the pitch, officials said.

He had been standing on the side of the pitch talking to other squad members watching the stadium's big screen, which was showing pictures from Thursday's earlier semifinal between Nigeria and Senegal.

Nkono was suddenly set upon by police and, after a brief argument, a punch-up ensued during which Nkono was thrown to the ground and handcuffed in full view of the spectators.

He was carried off the pitch by a group of policemen before walking over to the media area furiously displaying his handcuffs to the international press.

Nkono was later released and returning sobbing to the team's dressing-room, where Schafer initially refused to play the match.

There was also an earlier punch-up outside the press centre between Cameroonian officials and the police when a policeman tried to grab a bag belonging to the visiting team's doctor.


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