Soccer in Equatorial Guinea: the road to success
Soccer in Equatorial Guinea is a reflection of life, dreams, work, goals, obstacles… And the biggest representative of soccer in Equatorial Guinea is his national team.
When the Equatorial Guinea national team had the opportunity to participate in the final tournament for their first World Cup at their fingertips, things were not going to be the same. Something had changed in the minds and hearts of that group of gladiators known as the “Nzalang”. The seed was finally planted.
Equatorial Guinea national soccer team: lots of obstacles to overcome
For the rest of the world, Equatorial Guinea is not a country associated with soccer. The nation, with a population of about 1.2 million people, is located in Central Africa and is known for its oil wealth.
In short, belonging to the Nzalang is not a simple task and, historically, has not been a reason for international recognition. That has already changed. The national team has been improving in recent years, since the stage of Benjamín Zarandona, Bodipo, Balboa, and many other braves who decided to make the leap and defend their country. And let’s not forget, it also added risk to his soccer career and his integrity (see the example of Benjamin Zarandona).
It has not been an easy journey. There have been many disillusionments, many failures, and many disappointments. There were many obstacles to surpass before thinking of overcoming the group stage of any competition and having the possibility of competing for some international recognition, something that Equatorial Guinea’s soccer so deserved.
Equatorial Guinea and soccer: everything starts with a dream, and we pursue ours
We, all of us who, to a greater or lesser extent support the National soccer Team of Equatorial Guinea, have a mission: to make known to the world of soccer the strength of the Nzalang. Our team is made up of players who give their lives for playing soccer and for this national team. We are all the Nzalang! It represents us all!
Today, we are committed to enjoying the moment and living our dreams through our passion for soccer. Soccer is life itself.
We want to transmit this passion and love for the sport to the other fellow soccer lovers of the planet through our commitment and our passion. And why not, believe in our dream of one day qualifying for the World Cup. We invite you to share with us our enthusiasm helping us achieve our goal. We need your support so we can fulfill everyone’s dream.
Milestone for soccer in Equatorial Guinea: AFCON 2021
Equatorial Guinea was returning to the African Cup of Nations (AFCON or CAN) after too many years of absence. The Nzalang was placed in Group E with Algeria, Ivory Coast and Sierra Leone, a rather complicated group. The best forecasts indicated that with 4 points we could fight to qualify as one of the best third. And later, say goodbye to the competition at the first round of 16. But, fortunately, it was not so. The predictions were not right at all.
In a nervous first game, the Nzalang lost 1-0 against Ivory Coast. Everything was complicated, the way forward was to tie with the all-powerful and reigning champion Algeria and win in a heart-stopping final to Sierra Leone, always keeping fingers crossed to be the best third.
But the surprise came. After more than 35 games without losing, Mahrez’s all-powerful Algeria fell 1-0 to our beloved Equatorial Guinea in a match that will be remembered by all. A match in which it was shown that teamwork is above individuality. A match where we suffered, worked and got our reward. From this victory, the road was clear and everything went by not falling to Sierra Leone in the last game.
The prophecies and dreams of all Equatoguineans were fulfilled and Equatorial Guinea won a controlled match against Sierra Leone. At that moment, the euphoria was unleashed through the streets of Malabo. No matter the rival, nothing mattered. Equatorial Guinea had achieved the expected milestone. But that wasn’t all. AFCON and Equatorial Guinea soccer still had a common path.
The round of 16 ended with a confrontation with the great Mali. Equatorial Guinea has always wanted to play with teams of that magnitude. After a hard game, intense and maximum suffering, they reached the always damned penalty shootout. Shootout in which so many dreams have been broken and so many tears have been shed. In this case, the tears were of joy for the Nzalang thanks to the incredible performance of goalkeeper Owono, who captivated the heart of the Equatoguineans, and of the great Akapo, who stopped those same hearts with his penalty shoot-out using panenka style (little has been said about self-confidence to use such a resource at such a time).
After the match, absolute joy was unleashed on the streets of Equatorial Guinea. That is the obvious result of such a feat carried out by these boys. Or not… To this group of friends, compatriots and brothers who have given so much for each other. And that they have given this gift to a citizenry eager to take to the streets and vibrate for national soccer. They are a source of union and pride for all Equatoguineans.
The goal was already fulfilled and the joy overflowed. There was a major challenge: the great Senegal of Mané. These guys made us dream that we could. For much of the game they even made that great selection afraid. In the end, it couldn’t be, and the Nzalang lost 3-1, but the tears of all those players did not last long. Because they felt the warmth and support of an entire nation. The outcome of that day no longer mattered, the work was well done. The success was undeniable.
After the return home, total madness. They were greeted by hundreds of people at the airport, with a massive walk along the promenade. Surely these players have been proud of their country, of our country. The victories forge the winners. The defeats, the champions. It is the reflection of soccer in Equatorial Guinea.
Challenges for soccer in Equatorial Guinea in the future
January 2022, AFCON 2021 ends for Equatorial Guinea soccer players. February 2022, only 17 months remain for the start of AFCON 2023 in Ivory Coast and Equatorial Guinea has to endorse its performance. That is the illusion.
With a young squad, with a lot of potential and with the hand of coach Juan Michá, who has shown that he knows how to lead this group, the illusion is overflowing. Now the pressure will be maximum, the biggest challenge, but these players can handle that and more. The squad stands, and who knows if it will arise a new young player that will bring even more to this great group.
Special mention deserves the great captain Emilio Nsué, who may not be in that competition. With you it all began. Our respects to Pedro Obiang, who could not enjoy this success, but belongs to him as well. We hope to see you in Ivory Coast in 2023 leading this group.
Soccer lessons in Equatorial Guinea: never give up on your dreams
If there’s one thing the Nzalang has shown us, it’s that whatever your goal is, you can’t stop working for it. Whether you want to get better at school or get a better job, be sure to stay focused and follow the steps needed to achieve your goals. They have taught us that you can. So whatever you want to be, start today!
That is our philosophy and that is how we live soccer in Equatorial Guinea. And the Nzalang has shown it to the whole world.
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