Man-of-the-match Pico Lopes hails his Cape Verde team’s fantastic performance

Mon, Jan 17 2022
Roberto 'Pico' Lopes

Roberto 'Pico' Lopes Credit: Clare McCahill (ETPhotos)

Shamrock Rovers defender Pico Lopes won the man-of-the-match award for his display on Monday in Cape Verde’s 1-1 draw against Cameroon in the African Cup of Nations.

The come-from-behind draw against the tournament hosts, along with their win on the opening day of the competition against Ethiopia, means Cape Verde secured third spot in Group A.

Their four points should see the Blue Sharks through to the last 16 despite their 1-0 defeat to Burkina Faso in their other group game.

Unless there are a series of unfortunate results elsewhere they should earn one of the four positions for the next round from the six third placed teams in the group stages.

“It feels great as a personal achievement but I think everyone today in the team was absolutely fantastic,” said Lopes speaking as he picked up the TotalEnergies man-of-match award in the Stadio Olembe in Yaoundé.

His team had fallen behind to a 39th minute strike from distance from Vincent Aboubakar – his fifth goal in this year’s tournament - but they rallied to equalise with a beautiful back flick by half time substitute Garry Rodrigues eight minutes into the second half.

The Indomitable Lions knew a point was good enough to win the game but went looking for the winner requiring Lopes and his teammates to dig in to secure the point. Cameroon had 62% possession and earned ten corners in the game. They took nine shots to Cape Verde’s two.

”I think to a man we really showed great heart and great spirit against such a great team like Cameroon. To come back from one goal down to equalise is a team effort.

"I stand here as man-of-the-match but it could have been anyone from our team.

“The last game we were disappointed with the goal we conceded (against Burkina Faso) and Aboubakar scored a good goal today.

"The fact that we showed the spirit and determination to get back in to tournament it gives us a fighting chance (to get to the last 16). It is incredible. I have to be happy.” 

Cape Verde assistant coach Humberto Bettencourt said "this game meant a lot to me and my team, because we knew it was going to be a difficult game against the host country. We managed a positive result even though we wanted to end this group stage with a victory. Our game plan has succeeded today."

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