Cape Verde Secures Historic AFCON Quarter-Final Spot with Late Penalty Victory

Ryan Mendes' Heroic Penalty: Captain Leads Cape Verde to Victory

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Ryan Mendes’ Heroic Penalty: Captain Leads Cape Verde to Victory

In a historic moment for Cape Verde, the national football team claimed their first-ever Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) knockout victory on Monday, defeating Mauritania 1-0 in the last 16 with a late Ryan Mendes penalty.

The closely contested match at the Felix Houphouet Boigny Stadium in Abidjan appeared destined for extra time when Cape Verde was awarded a crucial spot-kick. Captain Ryan Mendes stepped up with just two minutes remaining in the regular 90 to convert the penalty, breaking Mauritania’s resilience and securing a spot in the quarter-finals.

The Blue Sharks, a tiny Atlantic Ocean island nation, showcased determination throughout the game, holding their ground through 10 added minutes to advance to the quarter-finals. Their next challenge awaits on Saturday in Yamoussoukro, where they will face either Morocco or South Africa, who are set to clash in the last 16 on Tuesday.

Cape Verde’s coach, Pedro ‘Bubista’ Brito, expressed pride in his team’s accomplishments, stating, “We are proud of everything we have done up to now. We always tried to win the game, and we thoroughly deserved the victory.” Brito remains optimistic about the team’s future in the tournament, setting the ambitious goal of reaching the semi-finals.

Mauritania, coached by Amir Abdou, had hoped to extend their impressive run after securing their first-ever AFCON win in their last group game against Algeria. Despite their efforts, the Chinguetti Lions fell short, with Abdou acknowledging the team’s naivety in conceding the late penalty. Despite the loss, Abdou highlighted the positives from their tournament run, vowing to return stronger next year.

The dramatic turning point in the match came when Cape Verde was awarded a penalty after substitute Gilson Tavares Benchimol was brought down in the box by Mauritania’s goalkeeper Babacar Niasse. Mendes, who plays for Turkish side Fatih Karagumruk, made no mistake, converting the penalty and etching his name in Cape Verde’s football history.

Cape Verde’s journey in the AFCON continues, and the team remains focused on their goal while maintaining humility and respect for their opponents.