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Saturday, 27 January 2024 22:26

Dala scores twice as 10-man Angola beat Namibia to reach Afcon quarter-finals.

By Eshlin Vedan.

Gelson Dala scored twice as Angola shrugged off the early dismissal of goalkeeper Neblu to beat 10-man Namibia 3-0 and reach the quarter-finals of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations.

Neblu was shown a straight red in the 17th minute for handling Bethuel Muzeu's shot outside his box, but Dala put Angola in front with a tap-in seven minutes before the break.

Namibia defender Lubeni Haukongo was soon sent off for a second bookable offence and two minutes later Dala doubled Angola's lead by powerfully heading home Fredy's free-kick.

Mabululu's neat finish following a swift counter-attack midway through the second half wrapped up victory and sent the Palancas Negras into the last eight for the first time since 2010.

Angola will face the winners of the last 16 tie between Nigeria and Cameroon later on Saturday (20:00 GMT) in the next round on Friday in Abidjan.

Angola through despite Neblu's moment of madness

Neblu had been booked for handling a through ball outside his area in Angola's group-stage win over Burkina Faso, but referee Dahane Beida had no choice but to send off the 30-year-old in Bouake.

Kialonda Gaspar's defensive mistake left Muzeu through on goal, and Neblu charged out to stop the forward's attempted chip.

Replacement keeper Antonio Dominique was called into action straight away to save Deon Hotto's free-kick but Namibia were dealt a blow of their own just minutes later as Prins Tjiueza - one of their top performers in the tournament - was forced off injured

Angola seized control of the match and captain Fredy had a hand in all three goals, teeing up the opener after latching on to a clever through ball from Gilberto and squaring for Dala to tap in.

The Brave Warriors' woes were compounded when Haukongo, booked early on for handball, got his second yellow card following a trip on Mabululu.

Fredy's pin-point delivery allowed Dala to head home for his fourth goal of the tournament, with the skipper registering his third assist at the finals.

Peter Shalulile had a chance to reduce the deficit early in the second half, as poor defending from Gaspar presented him with a good chance, but the Namibia captain struck his shot high and over the goal.

Fredy was in the thick of things once more as Angola made it 3-0, with his 40-yard pass finding Dala in space on the left.

The goalscorer turned provider, freeing Mabululu and allowing the striker to curl a composed finish past Namibia goalkeeper Lloyd Kazapua and in off the right-hand upright for his third goal at the finals.

Even then Angola showed no signs of sitting back on their lead.

Kazapua made a good stop to deny Angola a fourth goal in the 72nd minute as he saved Jonathan Buatu's header following a corner, and substitute Zito Luvumbo rattled the crossbar with a long-range effort in stoppage time.

Angola, having topped Group D, registered their first ever knockout win at an Afcon finals, with their previous two quarter-final appearances coming when the tournament had 16 teams.

Despite being knocked out Namibia can take plenty of positives from their campaign, which saw the Brave Warriors register a first ever finals win - a memorable 1-0 victory over Tunisia - and reach the knockout stage for the first time in their history.