Côte d’Ivoire had a scare trailing Senegal twice during their Afcon 2013 qualifier on Sunday in Abidjan, before finally managing a win.The Elephants’ defence struggled against an uninhibited Lions outfit and quickly paid for their slowness and their nerves when Dame Ndoye opened the score with an excellent strike just after the half-hour mark.
Sabri Lamouchi’s men were very lucky to manage an equalizer just before half-time to bring the score to 1-1 on a Salomon Kalou goal.Didier Drogba and his team mates continued to struggle at the start of the second half with Yaya Touré notably inexistent in the midfield, and it was no surprise when they conceded a second goal on the hour mark by the captain of the Lions, Papiss Cissé.
The Ivoirians where however able to offset their collective weakness with their individual talent, especially that of Gervinho who was by far the best Elephant on the field.
After scoring his team’s second equalizer, the Gunners striker provoked a penalty which would give the advantage to the locals for the first time in the match, through captain Didier Drogba.
AS Saint-Etienne winger Max Gradel put the cherry on top at the end of the match, sealing a 4-2 victory that the Elephants could barely have hoped for given the general performance of the team.
And with good reason, after the match coach Sabri Lamouchi praised the strength of character of his troops, at the same time admitting that they suffered a wobble.
“What I got out of this match was that the players had to dig deep within themselves to get this result. They refused to give up. It was a result that they struggled for and showed lots of heart in achieving,” affirmed the Côte d’Ivoire coach.
As for Gervinho, he preferred to focus on the most important.
“It was not easy for us. But the most important was to win the first leg. We had to please the supporters who came to support us. We won, and that’s the most important,” stated the hero of the evening on the Ivoirian side.