Win 'almost a miracle' says Equatorial Guinea coach

Equatorial Guinea's head coach Esteban Becker of Argentina during their quarter-final soccer match of the 2015 African Cup of Nations against Tunisia (Photo: Reuters)
Sunday 1 Feb 2015
Esteban Becker refused to get into a debate about the referee after his Equatorial Guinea side beat Tunisia 2-1 after extra time in a contoversial Africa Cup of Nations quarter-final on Saturday.

The tournament hosts trailed heading into injury time in Bata, only to win a soft penalty for a foul on Ivan Bolado by Hamza Mathlouthi.

Javier Balboa converted from the spot and then netted a wonderful free-kick in extra time to take Equatorial Guinea through 2-1.

"Tunisia played very well. They have players who play at a high level, while we only have one who plays in a top division in Europe, and that's Javier Balboa," said the Argentine Becker, whose side will face either Ghana or Guinea in the semi-finals.

"To beat Tunisia is an achievement, almost a miracle.

"Thanks to the players, the people of (Equatorial) Guinea, the people at the federation, their president and of course the president of the Republic."

Of Tunisia's angry reaction at full-time, Becker added: "I understand the Tunisians' anger at having lost, because they had the potential to win by several goals.

"But they didn't do it and in the end the game went our way.

"Everyone will contest a penalty that goes against them. In the last minute, who would not protest? I would have protested too.

"But you still need to score the penalty and luckily we have a specialist in Javier Balboa.

"If we spent all our time scrutinising refereeing, we wouldn't be able to play football anymore.

"It was the team ranked 30th (Tunisia are 22nd) in the world against the 118th, and they couldn't beat us in 120 minutes.

"At the moment I am the happiest man in the world."

Match-winning hero Balboa said: "The free-kick was without doubt the goal of my life, for what it represents for the country and because it has taken us into the semi-finals."

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