Ivory Coast

Ivory Coast
Sabri Lamouchi
3th World cup
FIFA Ranking: 21
Best result: first round

Group C
Colombia
Greece
Ivory Coast
Japan

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Blinkered and crass criticism of Wilfried Zaha shows startling insularity | Barney Ronay

The Guardian

It is ridiculous to cast split loyalties as an issue of blame and unworthiness, an absence of guts and spleen and old English backbone – the ability to understand rather than bully is the only viable futureParallax error is the kind of thing you learn about in year five physics. It describes the way the same object can appear to have different qualities observed from different angles. Like a measuring gauge, for example – or Arsenal’s talented teenage centre-forward Eddie Nketiah.“Arsenal wonderkid Eddie Nketiah nets hat-trick for England Under‑18s,” was the headline in one English newspaper after Nketiah’s fine performance against Qatar on Tuesday night. “England-born Ghanaian Eddie Nketiah scores on England debut,” was an alternative view from Ghanaweb.com after Nketiah had scored on his debut against Saudi Arabia last week. Related: Wilfried Zaha hits back at Southgate’s ‘timescale’ claim over England selection Related: Gareth Southgate wanted Wilfried Zaha for England role but was too late Continue reading...

Wilfried Zaha hits back at Southgate’s ‘timescale’ claim over England selection

The Guardian

• Ivory Coast forward rejects comments made by England’s Gareth Southgate• Statement adds player’s ‘passion’ to play should never have been questionedWilfried Zaha has rejected Gareth Southgate’s suggestion that he had imposed a timescale to be selected again by England, effectively holding the national team to ransom, and has defended his right to instead represent the country of his birth, Ivory Coast. Related: Gareth Southgate wanted Wilfried Zaha for England role but was too late Continue reading...

Utter chaos as Ivory Coast vs Senegal match abandoned after fans invade pitch

www.goal.com

Ugly scenes marred the friendly fixture in Paris, with supporters clashing and even confronting the players, forcing the referee to end the game early

Gareth Southgate wanted Wilfried Zaha for England role but was too late

The Guardian

• Palace winger went on to choose Ivory Coast• Steve Parish critical of national set-upGareth Southgate has revealed he made a late attempt to persuade Wilfried Zaha against choosing Ivory Coast before England but said he will not pick anyone unless they have an “inherent desire” and has reservations about following Sam Allardyce’s idea of selecting players merely through residency rules.Southgate said he was so keen to stop Zaha switching countries he made it a priority after taking the manager’s job full-time at the end ofNovember but could not dissuade a player who had already won a senior England cap during Roy Hodgson’s time in charge. Related: From Kasper Dolberg to Naby Keïta – who are the most in-demand players for the summer? Related: England goalscorer Jermain Defoe says vegan diet and discipline paying off Continue reading...

Afcon 2017: our writers select their highs and lows from the tournament

The Guardian

From the standout match, player and goal through to personal highlights, disappointments and more, here is the verdict on the contest in GabonEgypt 1-2 Cameroon The best was saved until last. This was a watchable tournament throughout but, with almost an hour of the final played, Egypt appeared to be seeing it out to a conclusion that, given some of the attacking football on view from other sides, was not necessarily the most palatable. Then came an out-of-the-blue equaliser from Nicolas Nkoulou, a whirlwind of an onslaught from Cameroon in the final 30 minutes and a goal from Vincent Aboubakar that will bear replaying over and over again. All in front of a full house, largely peopled by Cameroonian expats, that made for the kind of raw, footbally atmosphere largely absent from major finals these days. Nick Ames Related: Afcon 2017: Cameroon’s Aboubakar wins final with late goal against Egypt This has been a tournament of fine goals, particularly free-kicksGiven the attacking intent most teams showed, it would have been appropriate to provide them with decent surfaces Related: Emmanuel Adebayor: ‘I have a bad reputation in England and I don’t know why’ Continue reading...

Morocco's Rachid Alioui puts holders Ivory Coast out of Africa Cup of Nations

The Guardian

• Morocco 1-0 Ivory Coast • Togo 1-3 DR CongoThe curse of the defending champion struck Ivory Coast at the Africa Cup of Nations as they were eliminated by Morocco on a night when DR Congo also danced into the quarter-finals.The holders Ivory Coast needed to beat Morocco in the last round of matches in Group C but lost 1-0 to follow Algeria out of the tournament. Continue reading...

Morocco 1-0 Ivory Coast: Afcon 2017 – as it happened

The Guardian

The holders are out after a pitiful display against a diligent Morocco side who won thanks to a wonderful strike from substitute Rachid Alioui 8.58pm GMT Well that was a poor game of football lit up by one moment of magic. Thanks for that Rachid Alioui. Morocco showed that they have the defensive nous to grind out the results needed to go deep into this competition. Herve Renard is working his wizardry once more. Thanks for your emails. Bye. 8.54pm GMT DR Congo have won 3-1. They go through as group winners. Morocco as runners up. 8.54pm GMT A corner that comes to nothing. Ivory Coast go out with a whimper. They were bloody awful – apart from Salomon Kalou. He was their one good thing. 8.53pm GMT 90+ 3 min: Ivory Coast launch a long ball over the top that Kodjia manages to get half under control. He chases the bouncing ball into the box but never gets it under his spell which allows El Kajoui to push wide for a corner. 8.51pm GMT 90+1 min: There will be three more minutes of this and then the holders, Ivory Coast, will be out. 8.50pm GMT 90 min: En-Nesyr tries to chip Gbohouo from distance. He doesn’t. Then Boutiab replaces the matchwinner, Alioui, a substitute himself. An odd change? Maybe he’s injured. That would be a shame for Morocco – and the forward. 8.48pm GMT 88 min: Aurier launches a long ball into the box that Da Costa clears at the second attempt. Then Benatia defends diligently after another aerial bombardment. Aurier then slices a wayward cross over towards the fans behind the goal.This isn’t happening for Ivory Coast. 8.45pm GMT 86 min: Mohamedi is booked for time-wasting. A few moments ago El Ahmadi was booked for a late challenge in midfield. Morocco are looking to spoil their way to victory here. They have every right to. 8.44pm GMT 84 min: Serie, who has done the square root of naff all, is off. And in his place is Max Gradel, who was the hero two years ago when Ivory Coast needed a goal to qualify against Cameroon. They need two here. Well, what are you waiting for Max? Get busy. 8.42pm GMT 82 min: Fajr is off and Obbadiat is on. He immediately puts a foot in and gives away a free-kick. He’s essentially been sent on like an attack dog and got his teeth bloodied nice and early. 8.41pm GMT 81 min: Mendyl races away on the left wing and drives into the box. The angle narrows and he shapes to shoot but wallops the ball into the side-netting in the fashion befitting an overexcited 19-year-old. Which is what he is. 8.39pm GMT 78 min: Ivory Coast are playing like a veterans’ team playing in a friendly. They look like they couldn’t care less. Morocco, for all that they have been negative for long stretches, at least look like they have a gameplan. 8.35pm GMT 77 min: Kalou, Ivory Coast’s brightest player by a country mile tonight, picks the ball up in midfield and tricks one way and then the other before wining a free-kick. Ivory Coast play it short and left. the ball is crossed to Kalou at the back post, who leaps highest and tries to direct the ball to Kodjia on the back post, only for Morocco to clear. 8.33pm GMT 75 min: That’s Zaha’s last act of this game – and probably this tournament. He’s replaced by Kodjia, the Aston Villa striker. 8.32pm GMT 74 min: Da Costa nips in ahead of Kalou, as he had a foot cocked ready to shoot at goal. The ball ricochets out to Zaha. who looks to prod past El Kajoui, who smothers the ball back on to Zaha and out for a free-kick. 8.31pm GMT 72 min: Jonathan Wilson is not impressed.I'm loath just to blame coaches, but who on earth thought putting Michel Dussuyer in charge of Côte d'Ivoire was a good idea? 8.29pm GMT 69 min: Nothing. Aurier drifts the ball to the back post where Deli is offside as he heads it back across goal. Meanwhile, it’s 2-1 in the other game. A little something for Togo to take home with them. 8.28pm GMT 68 min: Ivory Coast have pushed players forwards and appear to be trying to aim the ball in the direction of Bony and hope for the best. Die is fouled and a bit of a scuffle ensues, with some head-grabbing and posturing going on. The result is that that well-known hard man, Zaha, is booked. Not for anything heated but for mouthing off at the ref. Now, what can Ivory Coast do with the free-kick? 8.25pm GMT 66 min: Well, Ivory Coast have to turn up now. They’ve looked about as interested as a music snob at a Brit-pop revival gig thus far. 8.24pm GMT What a goal this is. Morocco pick off possession in midfield and break at pace. The ball is played out to Nesyri, on the left, who plays a first time pass inside to Alioui, who should play a return pass to his team-mate but instead takes a touch, looks up and curls an absolute peach of a shot over the goalkeeper, marginally off his line, and into the top right corner. It’s beautiful. Well done. 8.21pm GMT 62 min: Both teams are doing a fine impression of treating the ball like an unpinned grenade. 8.20pm GMT 59 min: Ivory Coast win a corner after a shot from miles out is deflected high and wide. The ball is pinged in to the near post, where Serey Die’s near-post header is plucked from the air expertly by El Kajoui just before Kalou can get his head on it. El Kajoui then crumples to the turf with a shoulder injury that helps waste a few minutes. 8.17pm GMT 56 min: Mendyl, on a gallop, knocks the ball past Bailly, who absolutely clatters into the Morocco player, catching him with his thighs and sending him arcing up into the air and crashing down on the firm turf. He’s booked but he could very easily have been shown a red card on another day. It was reckless and cynical. It also broke up a promising move. One of the few promising moves this match has witnessed. 8.13pm GMT 53 min: Ivory Coast are currently working their way up the right side of the pitch with a series of throw-ins. That’s how good this is. Meanwhile, DR Congo are 2-0 up and cruising against Togo. 8.11pm GMT 52 min: Morocco win a free-kick over towards the right touchline. Fajr whips it in towards the penalty spot but he can’t find the head of Benatia nor Da Costa and Ivory Coast clear. 8.10pm GMT 49 min: Morocco are trying to play a more patient possession game here. They’re frustrating Ivory Coast. So much so that Doukoure has been withdrawn and Jean Seri has come on in his place. He’ll offer a little more threat going forwards. 8.08pm GMT 47 min: “I am watching Togo Congo at work and can confirm that this is also a snoozefest,” reports Toby Mason. “Congo’s goal however, did provide a bit of quality.” I doubt the lack of atmosphere in the stadiums helps to get the players’ pulses racing either. It’s what Jürgen Klopp hinted at when he said his Liverpool players were passive at Anfield. I’m sure players absorb the feeling from the stands. If fans are silent it follows that players might be a little docile too. 8.05pm GMT 45 min: It’s the second half. And there’s an early chance for Morocco when Kajoui flaps at a ball hoiked up into teh box only for it to land at Benatia’s feet. The Juventus full-back loops the ball back towards goal but he puts too much juice into it and it sails harmlessly over. Still, a bit of action. 8.02pm GMT My colleague Rob Smyth has done a little research that reveals winning the Cup of Nations perhaps puts the kaibosh on your chances in the next tournament. Since Egypt won 3 in a row, the record of the defending Afcon champions is … 7.59pm GMT Philip Wainwright writes: “Evening Gregg, I’ve tuned in to a fair portion of the AFCON MBMs so far, and the majority I’ve seen are lamenting the urgency and overall quality of the games. Has this been the case throughout or am I just unlucky with the MBM choice?” From speaking to other MBMers, this has been the case for the most part although last night offered a bit of drama. The pitches don’t seem to help. The ball has bobbled around a fair bit tonight which doesn’t help to encourage zippy passing football. 7.49pm GMT It can only get better. With Ivory Coast staring an ignominious exit in the face, it will have to get better. Even Elephants fight you know. 7.48pm GMT 45 min: Kalou is fouled after an ugly battle in midfield in which Morocco brought a pressing game late to the party. The ball into the box is very poor. The referee blows his whistle to bring an end to a pretty awful first 45 minutes. 7.46pm GMT 44 min: Morocco have a brief scent of a counter-attack but Ahmadi plays a poor, overhit, ball down the line that Fajr chases more out of a sense of duty than the feeling that it’s worth him bothering his backside. 7.44pm GMT 42 min: Bouhaddouz has picked up a knock and has been replaced by Alioui. Meanwhile, Kalou has just grazed the outside of the post after Aurier whipped a ball in from the left that was flicked on expertly by Bony to Kalou at the far post. Mohamedi had it covered, just about, but this is better from Ivory Coast. They won’t want this half to end. They’re thoroughly in control for once. 7.42pm GMT 40 min: “Re: your post at 18:49. Pedantry alert!” howls Jason. “If Togo win by 2 clear goals over DR Congo, then they’re through regardless of the other result. This is because: if Ivory Coast vs. Morocco produces a winner, then the winner will top the group, and Togo will be on 4 points with DR Congo, and Togo wins the head-to-head tiebreaker (having beaten DR Congo); the loser of Ivory Coast vs. Morocco is irrelevant since they’re bottom on 2 or 3 points. If Ivory Coast vs. Morocco is a draw, then Togo, DR Congo, and Morocco are all on 4 points (Ivory Coast is out, bottom with 2 points). The matches between the 3 teams on 4 points would (first tiebreaker) result in another tie, all 3 teams having 3 points from the matches between them. Then the kicker: Morocco would have a +1 goal difference in those matches (can’t change, the Ivory Coast result is irrelevant), and Togo would have a better goal differential than DR Congo (having beaten DR Congo by 2 goals or more).” Erm, sorry to direct a yellow stream of liquid all over your pedantry parade but Togo are losing 1-0. Still, thanks for the email. At least you bothered. No one else has. 7.40pm GMT 37 min: Kalou is starting to emerge as the chief threat for Ivory Coast. His fast feet take him past his marker as he drifts inside from the right before he shows razor-sharp feet to play a blink-and-you-miss-it two-touch pass to set Zaha free on goal. Zaha takes a touch and is quickly closed down causing him to sidefoot a weak shot straight at Mohamedi. He needed to open his body up and bend that. He didn’t. 7.37pm GMT 34 min: Kalou and Zaha have switched wings in order to try to cause something, anything, to happen. He immediately has some success after skipping past his marker and poking the ball in towards Bony, but the centre-forward was on another wavelength and held back rather than gambling in the Gary Lineker style. 7.33pm GMT 30 min: Goal! In the other game! Junior Kabananga has rifled one past Togo’s third keeper, Cédric Mensah, and the group leaders are heading through. Mensah is playing because Kossi Agassa refused to start after Togo fans attacked his house after the last game. Poor fella. It doesn’t change anything here. Ivory Coast need to win. Morocco need a draw or a win. 7.31pm GMT 29 min: Ivory Coast clear the ball off the line as Benatia steals in and directs an effort at goal. But he handballed it. And is booked for his moment of mischief. 7.29pm GMT 27 min: Ivory Coast look ever so disjointed, like a collection of musicians with different song sheets. Nothing’s coming off. Morocco at least look like a team, even if they’re being a little more cautious in their approach. Morocco win a corner. 7.27pm GMT 25 min: Fajr clatters the bar with a brilliant effort! His right-footed fizzing shot has Gbohouo beaten all ends up as it slams into the bar and bounces back over the three Morocco players following up. Ivory Coast bundle the ball out for a corner. A corner that comes to nothing. That was a vicious free-kick. 7.25pm GMT 24 min: Doukoure swipes at Bouhaddouz as he attempts to turn on the edge of the box and get a shot away. It’s a cynical foul and he’s lucky to escape a booking. Fajr stands over it in a lovely position just right of centre of goal 20 yards out. 7.23pm GMT 20 min: There hasn’t been a shot on goal yet. There hasn’t been a telling pass either. Die has just done very well to dribble out of the Ivory Coast defence and set up an attack though. That kind of build up will at least draw a player or two and create space. 7.21pm GMT 19 min: Morocco defend the corner very well at the near post. Serey Die recycles possession and pops the ball off to Aurier on the right wing. He gallops past his marker but his cross is scuffed into the side-netting. 7.19pm GMT 18 min: Bony is dragged down by Saiss on the edge of the box. Ivory Coast have a free-kick on the left side of the penalty area. Kalou tries to ‘knuckleball’ it at goal in the Ronaldo style but his shot pops off the top of the wall and out for a corner. 7.18pm GMT 16 min: Bouhaddouz ploughs a lone furrow up the left wing after being passed the ball and left to battle three Ivory Coast defenders on his own. His nearest team-mate is miles away. As you can imagine, he’s quickly robbed of possession. 7.16pm GMT 13 min: Zaha wins a corner after swivelling away from Saiss on the right before the defender shows great tenacity to get back and block the Crystal Palace winger’s cross. Two poor corners later, Morocco have a goal-kick. Heard any good albums recently? Watched any good films? Sipped any good whisky? Do let me know. 7.13pm GMT 11 min: Ivory Coast have been physically imposing so far but nothing more. Both teams have walloped long balls back and forth. It’s been a horrible opening to be honest. Someone – anyone! – needs to get their foot on the ball. 7.11pm GMT 9 min: There’s brief panic in the Morocco box as Benatia decides it’s a great idea to try and dribble past Kalou near the corner flag only to be robbed of possession and left on his backside. Kalou drives into the box but Da Costa is over quickly and blocks with a fine sliding tackle. Benatia tried to grab hold of Kalou’s shorts as he fell over. He was lucky there. Could have been a penalty to Ivory Coast. 7.08pm GMT 7 min: Morocco win a free-kick on the left after a shove in the back by Bailly. Saiss whips the ball into the box but Gbohouo collects with cool authority. 7.07pm GMT 5 min: Ivory Coast have pinged a few high balls towards Bony. The big centre-forward has won each one but been unable to direct it to any of his team-mates. Zaha and Kalou need to get closer to him if that unlovely tactic is going to bear fruit. 7.05pm GMT 3 min: It’s not been a manic start by any means. You wouldn’t guess it was a must-win group match. That said perhaps the cool approach is the best one for Ivory Coast given their precarious position. Mendyl just took an almighty heavy touch on the edge of the box but Ivory Coast couldn’t capitalise on it. Zaha tried to nick the ball but he kind of half tackled the ball and half chipped it, which meant it skewed off his foot and went miles over. 7.02pm GMT 2 min: Ivory Coast win a free-kick after Saiss, of Wolves, leaves a foot in. Aurier looks to swing a ball in from a deep position on the right but it’s a poor ball and cleared easily by Morocco. 7.00pm GMT 1 min: Ivory Coast, in white, get things under way. They’re shooting from right to left on my telly. Morocco, in red, are going the other way. 6.57pm GMT The national anthems ring out around the stadium. Morocco’s is first up and seems to get the players’ juices flowing. Then it’s the turn of Ivory Coast. The starting XI are much more reserved as their jaunty tune quivers through the evening air. And now it is time for football! 6.54pm GMT The teams trot out on to the Stade d’Oyem turf. It’s a pretty small crowd, which is a shame because it’s pretty big match. 6.51pm GMT The table 6.49pm GMT So in terms of the Group C permutations for tonight, DR Congo need a draw to qualify, Morocco need a win but a draw should be enough. Ivory Coast must win as must Togo, but Togo will then need other results to go their way in order to go through. 6.20pm GMT Morocco: Munir Mohamedi; Benatia, Da Costa, Saïss; Dirar, El Ahmadi, Boussoufa, Mendyl; En Nesyri, Bouhaddouz, Fajr. Subs: Bounou, Chafik, El Arabi, Rherras, Boutaib, Ait Bennasser, Omar El Kaddouri, Attouchi, Obbadi, Carcela-Gonzalez, Alioui, El Kharroubi.Ivory Coast: Gbohouo; Aurier, Kanon, Bailly, Deli; Doukoure, Kessie, Die; Zaha, Bony, Kalou. Subs: Mande, Pepe, N’Guessan, Kone, Seri, Angban, Sio, Kodjia, Gradel, Traore, Bagayoko, Sangare. 5.51pm GMT Evening. This is a big match. No, let me start that again. This is a BIG match. B-I-G! Having drawn their first two games the holders will be out unless they beat Morocco tonight. They’re third in the group on two points, a point behind Morocco and two points behind the leaders, Congo DR, who play bottom-placed Togo. They haven’t really got going. Not that Serge Aurier is worried. “We are calm. It is those outside the squad who are more worried,” he said. “We are here and we are trying to progress from one game to the next. We will do everything to try to qualify.” Ivory Coast have been here before. In 2015 they drew their first two matches before beating Cameroon 1-0 to progress, so they have good reason not to panic. But they’ll need to up their tempo. They’ve looked a little ponderous at times. Michel Dussuyer will want to tighten up his defence too. Morocco put three past Togo in their last game so they know the way to goal well enough. But on their day, Ivory Coast have a squad more than strong enough to win this game. Continue reading...

Ivory Coast v DR Congo: Afcon 2017 – live!

The Guardian

Minute-by-minute updates from the 16.00 GMT kick-off in OyemAfcon 2017 nicknames quiz do you know the Warriors from the Pharaohs?Send your emails to: Rob.Smyth@theGuardian.com 4.48pm GMT That was lots of fun, for neutrals and DR Congo fans anyway. Ivory Coast are 45 minutes away from a major problem. See you soon for the second half. 4.46pm GMT 45 min A superb bit of sweeper-keeping from Gbohouo, who charges 35 yards from his goal to clear a dangerous through ball towards Kabananga. 4.44pm GMT 42 min Gradel is clattered by Ikoko, who might have been booked for that. Ivory Coast have been much better in the second half of this first half. They will hope to buOH MY EFFING LORD DONALD TRUMP IS ACTUALLY THE AMERICAN PRESIDENT. 4.41pm GMT 41 min Aurier curls a 25-yard free-kick straight at Matampi. It was well struck but too straight. 4.41pm GMT 40 min Zaha surges at Issama, who produces an excellent sliding tackle. He has defended very well. 4.39pm GMT 39 min If Ivory Coast lose today they wouldn’t be out of the competition, but it would leave them in considerable trouble - especially if Togo beat Morocco tonight. 4.36pm GMT 35 min This has turned into a terrific game. Ivory Coast are in Big Ron’s wide awake club now, attacking with an urgency that borders on desperation. 4.34pm GMT 33 min “I don’t want to distract you from the game,” says Charles Antaki, “but you should know that in a dramatic development, Donald Trump has renounced the office of president in favour of Elvis Presley, who has emerged from a space vehicle that has just landed in front of the White House.”Next you’ll be telling me Leicester won the Premier League last year. 4.32pm GMT 30 min Gradel’s deep cross drops over the head of Issama to Zaha, who is slightly unsighted and miscontrols the ball out of play. That was an opportunity for the Ivory Coast. 4.30pm GMT DR Congo are back in front! Not even Quasimodo predicted this! Tisserand starts the move by pinging a flat crossfield ball to Mubele on the right, a really superb pass. He runs at Traore before teasing a delightful cross beyond the far post, where Kabananga is criminally unmarked and rises to head firmly past Gbohouo. 4.28pm GMT 27 min “Out of curiosity,” says Prancing Hog, “are you watching this game live from Stade d’Oyem?” I wish, Prancing, I wish. 4.27pm GMT This is an excellent spell for the Ivory Coast, who have come to life after an abysmal start - and now they are level! Gradel curls a left-wing corner towards the near post, where Bony rises emphatically to power a header across goal and into the net. 4.25pm GMT 24 min Gradel’s cross is dropped by Matampi at the feet of Bony, but he doesn’t react quickly enough and Matampi claims it at the second attempt. 4.23pm GMT 22 min Bony misses a good chance to make it 1-1. Aurier, lurking near the halfway line on the right, curled a superb high pass over the defence to put Bony clear on goal. He had to take it first time just inside the box, and tried to lob his header over the keeper Matampi. He got the length right but not the line, and it drifted wide of the near post. 4.22pm GMT 22 min There is something uniquely beautiful about goals like Kebano’s, half-volleys that barely leave the floor as they whistle past the keeper. Here’s the masterpiece of the genre: 4.21pm GMT 21 min “You’re not alone, Rob,” says TM Abdelhamid. “This match is of particular interest here as Egypt might very well play either of the two teams should the Pharaohs play their next couple of games way better than they did their opener against Mali. Theoretically this is the Elephants’ game, but the Leopards are not going to let go of their initial group lead that easily.” 4.19pm GMT 19 min As good as DR Congo have been, Ivory Coast look like they couldn’t give a flying one! The lack of urgency and competence is almost startling. 4.17pm GMT 18 min Some nice footwork from the lively Mubele, who is booted up in the air by Doukoure for his impudence. That might have been a yellow card. 4.17pm GMT 17 min “This game promises to be much better than Trump’s swearing in,” says Jamie Hitchen. “My money is on DRC to win the tournament and I expect them to win today. Decent players in most positions, plenty of goals in the team (they scored a lot of goals in qualifying for Afcon 2017) and they are world-ranked 49th.”They have been excellent so far - hungry, organised and full of menace on the counter-attack. 4.14pm GMT 14 min DR Congo have been much the better side so far. Ivory Coast seem to be suffering from the same inertia that was evident in their first game. 4.12pm GMT That really was a superb goal. A longish throw from the left was well controlled by Kabananga in the box. He flicked the ball back to Kebano, who arrived late in the box and then, as it bounced, belted it across Gbohouo and into the far corner. 4.10pm GMT What a strike! Neeskens Kebano of Fulham scorches a half-volley into the far corner to give DR Congo the lead! 4.09pm GMT 9 min Mubele wins the first corner of the match with a decisive run down the left. The DR Congo corner is a poor one and volleyed away by Bony. 4.08pm GMT 8 min “Here with you mate!” writes my good friend Prancing Hog. “What’s your prediction for the game? The Elephants’ forward line should be too good to take them thru. 2-0 is how I predict this match going.”I think Congo might sneak this 1-0. But, strictly between us, I’ve not a clue what I’m talking about. 4.07pm GMT 7 min Zaha overhits a cross straight out of play. He was lively in the first game, when he was surprisingly substituted, and you can already see that he is trying to make something happen. 4.06pm GMT 6 min It’s been a really sleepy start to the game, as it was when the Ivory Coast drew their opening match with Togo. Whatever happened to the fast start? 4.04pm GMT 3 min DR Congo have started confidently and with most of the possession, albeit all in non-dangerous areas. 4.00pm GMT 1 min Peep peep! The Ivory Coast kick off from right to left. They are in orange and green; DR Congo are wearing white. 3.56pm GMT Anyone out there? Come on, this has got to be more uplifting than the Trump liveblog. 3.20pm GMT Ivory Coast (4-3-3) Gbohouo; Aurier, Kanon, Bailly, Traore; Doukoure, Kessie, Serey Die; Zaha, Bony, Gradel.DR Congo (4-2-3-1) Matampi; Bope, Issama, Ikoko, Tisserand; Maghoma, Mbemba; Kabananga, Kebano, Mubele; Mbokani. 11.57am GMT Hello. You spend years building up to something and it’s over in a trice. Enough about the teenage boy’s preferred rite of passage, because the same rules apply to international tournaments. All that planning, all those spreadsheets, and for half the teams it’s over before you can say ‘knockout football’.The second round of group games is when flip gets real, and it becomes apparent which sides are likely to progress. It was fine for the Ivory Coast to start the defence of their title with a tedious 0-0 draw with Togo, but if they fail to beat DR Congo today they will be in not insignificant danger of going home in a few days’ time. DR Congo top the group after a win over Morocco in their first game; another would ensure their quarter-final place. Related: Afcon 2017: Sadio Mané’s ‘gift from God’ heightens expectations on Senegal | Jonathan Wilson Continue reading...

Afcon 2017: Lacklustre Ivory Coast denied by resolute Togo

The Guardian

• Group C: Ivory Coast 0-0 Togo• Defending champions fail to break down group outsidersIvory Coast were held to a 0-0 draw by Togo as they began the defence of their Africa Cup of Nations title with an uninspiring display in the opening Group C game on Monday.It was the fourth draw in the opening five games at this year’s finals where none of the pre-tournament favourites have made an impact but will be a seen as a moral victory for Togo. Related: Afcon 2017: DR Congo hold off Morocco after Junior Kabananga strikes Related: Afcon 2017: Micho the meticulous gives Uganda hope of 1978 repeat Continue reading...

Ivory Coast 0-0 Togo: Reigning champions held to opening draw by Adebayor and co.

www.goal.com

The holders had to settle for a scoreless stalemate in their Africa Cup of Nations opener at the Stade d'Oyem

Afcon Stat Pack: All you need to know about Ivory Coast v Togo

www.goal.com

All the stats and numbers you need as Cote d'Ivoire prepares to take on Togo in Oyem

Ivory Coast v Togo: AFCON champions hope to tame Le Roy's 'troublemakers'

Goal.com

Claude Le Roy wants Togo to be the "troublemakers" at the Africa Cup of Nations, but Ivory Coast will take some beating in Group C.

Afcon 2017: wider spread of talent makes winner impossible to predict | Jonathan Wilson

The Guardian

A range of teams could win the 2017 tournament, which takes place against a backdrop of political unrestThe pattern has become familiar: a country wins the right to host a tournament and there is excitement, then come doubts about costs and readiness, but in the days before the event, the negativity falls away and excitement takes over. Not here. In 2015, Gabon stepped in to replace Libya as the hosts because of the conflict there but, as the 31st Africa Cup of Nations approaches, there is a clear sense a significant proportion of the country does not want it to happen. Related: Afcon 2017: a group-by-group guide to the Africa Cup of Nations Related: Guinea-Bissau: intrepid outsiders who will make history at the Cup of Nations Continue reading...

Côte d’Ivoire send Afcon warning with victory over Uganda

www.goal.com

The reigning African kings destroyed the Cranes in a warm up game on Wednesday ahead kickoff of the continent’s biggest football showpiece

Kalou tips Ghana to be Ivory Coast's biggest challengers

Goal.com

The former Chelsea forward has backed the Black Stars to be the main contenders aside from his home nation at this year's AFCON tournament

No regrets over snubbing England for Ivory Coast, says Wilfried Zaha

The Guardian

• Crystal Palace winger made his debut for country of birth on Sunday• ‘Now I have made my choice. Now I want to play with the Ivory Coast’Wilfried Zaha has no regrets about turning his back on England in order to play for the Ivory Coast at the Africa Cup of Nations, the Crystal Palace winger said on Tuesday.Zaha switched his international allegiance late last year to compete for the Ivorians, who are bidding to retain their Nations Cup crown at this year’s finals in Gabon, which start on Saturday. Related: Will England regret missing out on Wilfried Zaha if he plays for Ivory Coast? Continue reading...

Tottenham unlikely to make January bid for Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha

The Guardian

• Winger has joined up with Ivory Coast squad ahead of Africa Cup of Nations• Christian Benteke’s shoulder injury ‘not as bad as first feared’Tottenham Hotspur are unlikely to return with a new offer for Wilfried Zaha in the transfer window after the Crystal Palace winger joined up with the Ivory Coast squad for the Africa Cup of Nations.Zaha scored his fourth Premier League goal of the season against Swansea City in the 2-1 defeat at Selhurst Park on Tuesday night, meaning he has already matched his previous highest tally from 2014-15. The 24-year-old has also six assists, ranking him inside the top 10 players in the division, but is now set to miss up to six weeks of Palace’s campaign having flown to Abu Dhabi on Wednesday to meet his new international team-mates. Related: Transfer window January 2017: all the latest moves and news – interactive Continue reading...

The Premier League’s likely winners and losers from 2017 Africa Cup of Nations | Paul Doyle

The Guardian

Liverpool, Manchester United, Sunderland, Leicester and others may be hit by loss of players to tournament as clubs such as Chelsea, Manchester City capitaliseNow is the time for top clubs to prove that to be forewarned really is to be forearmed. Everyone knew that the Africa Cup of Nations was on the agenda for early 2017 and now, with 23 Premier League players among those heading off to Gabon to compete for their countries in what their employers view as the world’s worst-timed international tournament, rich clubs must show they are resourceful enough to cope. Otherwise they will pay a heavy price. Related: Liverpool’s matchwinner Sadio Mané will head to Gabon with a heavy heart Related: Wilfried Zaha accepts Ivory Coast call-up for Africa Cup of Nations Continue reading...