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Africa Cup of Nations: Where Drawing Lots Happens

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You want drama? The Africa Cup of Nations has you covered as we take a look at Guinea and Mali drawing lots to determine who advances to the quarterfinals.

Mali (left) had their eye on the prize, but Guinea (right) drew the ball that advanced them to the quarterfinals.
Mali (left) had their eye on the prize, but Guinea (right) drew the ball that advanced them to the quarterfinals.
Getty Images

Earlier today, the Africa Cup of Nations reached fever pitch, as Guinea and Mali resorted to the often-fabled but rarely-realized tiebreaker of drawing lots to see who would advance out of Group D into the knockout stage of the biennial tournament today in Malobo, Equatorial Guinea.  Both Guinea and Mali finished tied on 3 points in Group D, and were also tied on head-to-head record, overall goal difference, and overall goals scored.  So, the final tiebreaker was a drawing of lots at the Hilton Malobo to see who would join Group D winner Ivory Coast in the quarterfinals.

According to Jonathan Wilson of The Blizzard, a British publication, the scene was pretty amazing:

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>The big screen in the corner of the lobby is showing Pirates of the Caribbean, but the mood&#39;s so tense nobody&#39;s watching it.</p>&mdash; Jonathan Wilson (@jonawils) <a href="https://twitter.com/jonawils/status/560813181124497408">January 29, 2015</a></blockquote>

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The Hilton Malobo was not messing around with security:

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>They&#39;ve blocked off two of the three lifts with bins. There&#39;ll be no gatecrashing.</p>&mdash; Jonathan Wilson (@jonawils) <a href="https://twitter.com/jonawils/status/560814773185814528">January 29, 2015</a></blockquote>

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Here's how the draw actually went:

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" lang="en"><p><a href="https://twitter.com/RusselloMFC">@RusselloMFC</a> Two balls, one marked 2 and one marked 3 - a delegate from each side puts hand in and takes one.</p>&mdash; Jonathan Wilson (@jonawils) <a href="https://twitter.com/jonawils/status/560823395454296064">January 29, 2015</a></blockquote>

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So, the delegate who drew the 2 ball would see their team advance to the quarterfinals.  Whoever drew the 3 ball was 3rd in Group D and going home.

The delegates from Guinea and Mali each draw a ball...

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Guinea win.</p>&mdash; Jonathan Wilson (@jonawils) <a href="https://twitter.com/jonawils/status/560816445773578241">January 29, 2015</a></blockquote>

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Naturally, the reaction was huge:

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Astonishing scrum around the lifts.</p>&mdash; Jonathan Wilson (@jonawils) <a href="https://twitter.com/jonawils/status/560816839983648768">January 29, 2015</a></blockquote>

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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Huge cheers, Guineans hugging, the bowl has emerged from the third lift-shaft.</p>&mdash; Jonathan Wilson (@jonawils) <a href="https://twitter.com/jonawils/status/560817024293945344">January 29, 2015</a></blockquote>

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Naturally, Guinea was ecstatic to make it out of the group stage for the first time at the Africa Cup of Nations since 2008, even if it's via drawing of lots.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Guinea Minister of Youth: &quot;We&#39;re lucky to go through. Nobody expected us to be here, but we believe we can go all the way.&quot;</p>&mdash; Jonathan Wilson (@jonawils) <a href="https://twitter.com/jonawils/status/560820304675864578">January 29, 2015</a></blockquote>

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Of course, there was the other side as well, as Mali, who finished 3rd in the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations, was quite disappointed to come up short in their quest to get back to the semifinals.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>A Malian delegate in a grey suit has walked out crying. &quot;It&#39;s the cruellest way to lose,&quot; said another. &quot;They have to find another way.&quot;</p>&mdash; Jonathan Wilson (@jonawils) <a href="https://twitter.com/jonawils/status/560821566133784576">January 29, 2015</a></blockquote>

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And for those of you who were wondering what happened to the bowl used for the draw:

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>The bowl was carried back towards the kitchen. I think it may just have been one they use for the buffet.</p>&mdash; Jonathan Wilson (@jonawils) <a href="https://twitter.com/jonawils/status/560817333158313984">January 29, 2015</a></blockquote>

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Ladies and gentlemen, we need to see this more often...let's just make it so it's never one of our teams that is ever involved.  It's amazing to take in, but we couldn't imagine the stress level we would reach if this happened to us.