Ex-Manchester United striker Bebe scores as Cape Verde advances to the AFCON final 16

Ex-Manchester United striker Bebe scores as Cape Verde advances to the AFCON final 16

Former Manchester United striker Bebe’s long-range free-kick propelled Cape Verde to a 3-0 victory against Mozambique in the Africa Cup of Nations on Friday, making the Atlantic Ocean island country the first side to advance to the final 16.

Just after the half-hour mark, Bebe scored with a dead-ball goal from 40 metres in front of 5,794 people at Abidjan’s Felix Houphouet Boigny Stadium.

Captain Ryan Mendes extended their advantage just after halftime, and Kevin Pina sealed the victory with a sensational strike midway through the second half.

Cape Verde’s largest ever AFCON victory puts them on six points and ensures they will finish first in Group B, after defeating Ghana 2-1 in their first game.

“I don’t know how far we can go. Now we are into the last 16 and we just need to keep working as we have been,” said Mendes, formerly of Lille and Nottingham Forest and now with Turkish side Fatih Karagumruk.

“We know it won’t be easy but we believe in ourselves and in our work.”

Their next encounter is on Monday against Egypt, who has two points and can seal second place and a position in the last 16 with a win.

Bebe scores as Cape Verde win through to AFCON last 16

Mozambique, in their fifth Cup of Nations appearance, had yet to win a match in 14 previous tournaments.

They will, however, play Ghana next and still have a chance of qualifying, as both teams are equal on one point.

Bebe sent one free kick against the crossbar and over before hitting the score in the 32nd minute with another dead-ball blast from even further out, his attempt proving too strong for Mozambique custodian Ernan.

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The 33-year-old, who was born in Portugal and competed in his first AFCON, is presently with Rayo Vallecano in Spain’s La Liga, although he is most known for a failed tenure at Old Trafford in 2010/11, during which he made only seven appearances.

Mozambique felt they had a penalty five minutes before halftime when Geny Catamo collided with Joao Paulo Fernandes, but the Moroccan referee overruled the judgement following a VAR review.

Mendes made it 2-0 on 51 minutes, taking control from Mozambique defender Edmilson Dove well outside the area and shooting past the custodian.

Mozambique’s Catamo then struck the crossbar with a free kick, but Cape Verde scored again on 69 minutes with midfielder Pina’s spectacular drive into the top corner from nearly 30 metres.

The Blue Sharks, who are guaranteed to win the group, have already decided to stay in Abidjan for a last-16 encounter against a third-place club on January 29.

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