Mauritania coach Amir Abdou regretted leaving the round of 16 of the Africa Cup of Nations by offering a gift goal to the Cape Verde team in the final moments of the match on Tuesday.
A late Ryan Mendes penalty gave the Blue Sharks a dramatic victory to book their place in the last eight. In a tense round of 16 clash at the Felix Houphouet-Boigny Stadium in Abidjan, the two sides were deadlocked at 0-0 as the game entered the closing stages.
Cape Verde had dominated possession and chances, with Jovane Cabral having a goal disallowed for offside in the opening minutes. But Mauritania’s defence held firm. The breakthrough finally came in the 87th minute when Mauritania keeper Babacar Niasse brought down Gilson Tavares in the box and up stepped captain Mendes to smash home the penalty and make it 1-0.
“We’re a little disappointed to come out with this score and also with an individual error like that… to concede a goal like that is annoying, we lacked freshness,” said Abdou, adding: “We don’t deserve that, we had the possibility of continuing in the match… We could have responded to certain situations. But losing on this goal which for me is ridiculous.”
He added: “Effectively. We were gift distributors. Against Burkina Faso and today (against Cape Verde), the high level is not forgiving and you have no right to make these kinds of mistakes. We still have to grow. I want to add something. I think that in the transition phases, we confused speed and haste, and we had the possibility of putting this team in difficulty. We conceded an innocuous goal, it’s a big disappointment to concede this goal. We will continue to work.”
Asked whether the goal they conceded could have been avoided, he said: “Bakary N’Diaye is a central and not a right-back, and Yassine in his club is a right-back in Tunisia. That’s not the reason for taking this goal but he could indeed put it in touch, he crucified us a little bit. We have to remember the positives from this competition and not throw everything in the trash. The selection showed a good image in this CAN, we must remain positive for the future”
On his future with the team, Abdou said: “As for my future, I don’t know yet. As you know, I am at the end of my contract in March. When the time comes, we will see with the leaders, we will have discussions.”