African Cup: Tunisia knock out Ghana on penalties

CAIRO (AP) — Tunisia knocked Ghana out of the African Cup of Nations in a penalty shootout on Monday, extending the Black Stars’ run of pain at the tournament for at least another two years.

The title drought is now 37 years and counting for Ghana, which was eliminated 5-4 in the shootout in Ismailia when striker Caleb Ekuban was the only player to miss.

Goalkeeper Farouk Ben Mustapha was the hero for Tunisia in the last-16 match. He was brought on especially for the shootout and made a match-winning save from Ekuban.

That left Ferjani Sassi to step up and score with the last spot-kick and send Tunisia into a quarterfinal against surprise package Madagascar.

Tunisia was on its way to winning in regulation time after Taha Khenissi scored in the 73rd minute. Ghana snatched a dramatic equalizer two minutes into injury time when Rami Bedoui headed the ball into his own net straight after coming on as a substitute to make it 1-1.

There were no goals in extra time.

Ghana’s failure means the star-studded West Africans still haven’t won the African Cup since their fourth title in 1982. Ghana has lost three finals since then, including on penalties in 2015.

Tunisia was the last team to seal its spot in the quarters in Egypt.

The quarterfinal lineup is: Senegal vs. Benin, Nigeria vs. South Africa, Ivory Coast vs. Algeria and Tunisia vs. Madagascar.

Earlier, Wilfried Zaha’s late goal put Ivory Coast into the last eight with a 1-0 victory over Mali in Suez.

Zaha’s winner in the 76th minute saved Ivory Coast, which had been the second-best team for most of the game.

But Zaha took his chance when Mali’s players didn’t. He ran onto a long pass launched from the back and tucked his shot away after Mali’s defense failed to deal with the danger.

Mali had twice as many shots on goal as the Ivorians, dominated the first half and also finished the game strongest. The Malians just couldn’t break through.

Ivory Coast was the 2015 champion and is seeking a third title.

The quarterfinals start on Wednesday.