The Elephants of Ivory Coast have booked their slot in the Round 16 stage of the ongoing Total African Cup of Nations in Egypt.
Prior to the final round of matches in the group stages in group D, the Atlas Lions of Morocco were already through on 6 points, leaving Bafana Bafana of South Africa and the Ivorians to battle it out for the other last slot.
South Africa’s final game against Morroco failed to entertain with less clear cut chances in a cagey encounter. Bafana Bafana needed to win to automatically guarantee their place in the last 16 but were denied by a late Moubarak Boussoufa goal. Morocco, already through to next round looked more threatening as the game wore on. Achraf Hakimi shook the crossbar in the second half before Boussoufa’s 90th-minute goal sealed top spot.
Youssef En-Nesyri was unable to score after rounding goalkeeper Ronwen Williams when youngsters Achraf Hakimi’s strike from distance hammered of the crossbar. South Africa cranked up the pressure in search of the opener but South African hearts were broken approaching the final minutes of the game as Boussoufa hit the net o the half volley with a sublime finish .South Africa now have to wait and see if they can advance as one of the four best third-placed teams.
In the other Group D match, it was a pulsating encounter which recorded a lot of goals as the Ivorians battled to go through 4-1 with the Namibians lacking the quality to mount a proper challenge. A Max-Alain Gradel first half goal and veteran captain, Serey Die’s, thunderous second with Zaha and Kone adding a third and fourth takes the Elephants through to the next stage of the competition.
The star-studded Ivorian team started poorly as Namibia threatened in the early stages but were profligate in front of goal. Gradel lashed a brilliant finish past the raised hands of goalkeeper Lloyd Kazapua to give the Elephants the lead. However, replays show he was partially offside as Franck Kessie’s throughball was lofted to him. Namibia still surged forward but were unfortunate when Serey Die’s long range strike from outside the box nudged Ryan and found the back of the net. Namibia were finally rewarded for their efforts through Joslin Kamatuka. Wilfried Bony could have made it three for the Ivorians later on in the game after being picked up by Wilfried Zaha but he put it wide on a night to forget for him. The Ivorians weren’t going to deny the Elephants a third as AC Milan’s Frank Kessie drove into the box and laid it off for Wilfried Zaha coming in from the left flank, who made no mistake as he took a touch and rippled the back of the net four 3-1. Cornet climbed off the bench to finish from 12 yards to add gloss to the scoreline.
Ivory Coast will now face the winner of Group E in the first knockout round.
Kwamena Afful Cleland | Univers Sports