It’s not the way To-go, Ele­phants boss cries

Not the start we would have liked, says the Ivory Coast coach as Ade­bayor’s men rise to the oc­ca­sion

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - SOC­CER RE­PORTER

IVORY COAST coach Michel Dus­suyer has lamented the Ele­phant’s poor start to the de­fence of their Africa Cup of Na­tions ti­tle after they were held goal­less by Togo in their Group C opener in Oyem, Gabon on Mon­day.

“It is not the start we would have liked,” he said in the post-match con­fer­ence be­fore im­me­di­ately say­ing he was not sur­prised.

“We were warned (out­siders Zim­babwe hold­ing Al­ge­ria on Sun­day), but could not raise our level of play to do bet­ter.”

But the man who re­placed fel­low French­man Herve Renard, whose Morocco were beaten 1-0 by the Demo­cratic Repub­lic of Congo also on Mon­day, was not too per­turbed.

“There are still two matches left. We ex­pect more from our­selves. We did not man­age to put in­ten­sity into our game. We played at 5pm lo­cal time and it was very hot. We did not know how to desta­bilise Togo. In the end, it was a pale copy of what we can do. We are all aware of it, me more so than any­one,”

There were’nt a lot of scor­ing chances al­though Paris Saint-Ger­main de­fender Serge Aurier headed inches wide with just two min­utes of play re­main­ing.

Ex­pect­edly, Togo coach Claude le Roy glee­fully ac­cepted the point which could go a long way to­wards him lead­ing a team to the knock­out stages for the eighth time in nine tour­na­ments.

“I feel we had a good match, hats off to my play­ers. We qual­i­fied (for this Cup of Na­tions) at the last sec­ond in a coun­try where there has not been a cham­pi­onship for the past three years,” he said, adding he’d ex­pected a tough time for his side. “I feared this Ivory Coast team. On some ac­tions, we were near scor­ing, which would have been mar­vel­lous.”

De­spite their line-up boast­ing two English Pre­mier League play­ers in Crys­tal Palace winger Wil­fried Zaha and Manch­ester United de­fender Eric Bailly, the Ele­phants just couldn’t sparkle.

It was an un­event­ful com­pet­i­tive de­but for Abid­jan-born Zaha who switched in­ter­na­tional al­le­giance after two friendly ap­pear­ances for his adopted coun­try Eng­land. The former United player didn’t fin­ish the match as he made way for Stoke City’s Wil­fried Bony whose in­tro­duc­tion did very lit­tle to set fire on a match that hardly kept the pal­try crowd in the 20 000-seater arena.

But the Ele­phants did get a good chance just 10 min­utes into the match but Jonathan Kod­jia of English sec­ond-tier out­fit As­ton Villa, fell just as he was about to shoot and Togo’s Kossi Agassa blocked the loose ball.

Togo, cap­tained by club­less Emanuel Ade­bayor, had an op­por­tu­nity to break the dead­lock just be­fore the half-hour mark when a cross from the left wing found the Ivo­rian de­fence want­ing. But goal­keeper Syl­vain Gbo­houo spot­ted the po­ten­tial dan­ger and darted off his goalline to parry a low shot from vet­eran mid­fielder Matthieu Dos­sevi.

Togo then had a half chance on 78 min­utes as Kodjo Fo-Doh Laba evaded his marker in the goal­mouth, but his header flew over.

The re­sult main­tained a trend of stale­mates in the 2017 tour­na­ment, which kicked off on Satur­day, with four of the first five matches fail­ing to pro­duce a win­ner.

There was at least a goal in the night’s sec­ond match when the DRC took on Morocco.

Kaza­khstan-based Ju­nior Ka­bananga took ad­van­tage of poor de­fend­ing to score the day’s only goal on 55 min­utes.

The Con­golese clung on after sub­sti­tute Joyse Lo­ma­l­isa was sent off for a sec­ond book­able of­fice nine min­utes from time. – Ca­fon­line/Reuters

STALE­MATE: Ivory Coast’s Franck Yan­nick Kessie, left, is chal­lenged by Togo’s Atakora Lalawewe dur­ing the Africa Cup of Na­tions Group C match be­tween Ivory Coast and Togo at the Stade de Oyem in Gabon on Mon­day. The teams drew 0-0. PIC­TURE: AP

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.