Skip to content

Cup of Nations: Cote d’Ivoire stay perfect with win over Tunisia

Jan 26, 2013, 12:51 PM EDT

Ivory Coast v Tunisia - 2013 Africa Cup of Nations: Group D Getty Images

Either Sabri Lamouchi was hoping to change things up or he was just trying to keep his squad fresh. Regardless, the Cote d’Ivoire coach got the result he sought, one which leaves his team within inches of the quarterfinals at the African Cup of Nations.

With an early goal from winger Gervinho, Les Elephants claimed a 21st minute lead. Last goals from Yaya Touré and Didier Ya Konan gave the Ivorians a 3-0 win and first place in Group D.

It was another Didier, however, who took early headlines. Cote d’Ivoire captain Didier Drogba was on the bench to start this game, and although he came on for the match’s final 23 minutes, the star striker’s unprecedented benching created news before kickoff. While decision was likely a fitness concern, it was still the first time the former Chelsea start had been dropped during his international career.

That wasn’t the only change Lamouchi made. Veteran defender Kolo Touré was left out, as was winger Max Gradel and attacking midfielder Ya Konan (whose late goal came as a substitute). Chieke Tioté, Romaric, Lacina Diarra, and Salomon Kalou got their first starts of the competition. Didier Zokora dropped from midfield into central defense while Yaya Touré moved into an attacking midfield role.

“It doesn’t matter who plays, who doesn’t play,” Kolo Touré said after Les Elephants’ victory. “We want to go back with the trophy.”

The changes produced an early energy, Les Elephants continuously trying to slip the ball behind the Tunisian defense for Gervinho and Kalou cutting in from wide. The tactic led to the team’s first goal when Gervinho caused a turnover, found Diarra in the middle of the penalty area, and then ran onto a backheeled pass before finishing in the top of the Tunisian net.

The game settled after the goal, each side playing out the next hour with few chances to score. Tunisia’s best chance came late in the second half when Saber Khelifa’s volley from near the penalty spot was redirected straight at goalkeeper Boubacar Barry.

Touré’s 87th minute goal finally sealed it for the Ivorians, with Ya Konan’s right-footed finish from 17 yards out giving Group D’s leaders a deceptively decisive result.

“Collectively that was one of our best games,” Salomon Kalou said after the match.

In Wednesday’s highly anticipated match with Algeria, Cote d’Ivoire may only need a draw to clinch Group D. They sit on six points and own head-to-head tiebreakers over both Tunisia and Togo. If Algeria fail to defeat Togo today, Les Elephants will have their group locked up before starting their final game, a just state of a team whom, while imperfect, have looked as good as any in this competition.

Tunisia find themselves in a tougher spot after their decisive loss. It’s unlikely goal difference will help them now, so ahead of a final group match with Togo, they will be hoping for a Sparrow Hawks result today against the Desert Foxes. Get it, and the Tunisians can advance with a victory over Togo. Without it, they may be at the mercy of tiebreakers. At best.

Latest Posts
  1. Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 Fulham: Whites’ hope fading fast

    Apr 19, 2014, 9:43 AM EDT

    Tottenham Hotspur's Paulinho, second right, celebrates his goal against Fulham with teammates during their English Premier League soccer match at White Hart Lane, London, Saturday, April 19, 2014. (AP Photo/Sang Tan) AP

    Fulham put up a good fight, but in the end failed to take advantage of Spurs weaknesses to come away from White Hart Lane with even a point.

  2. Watch Live: Aston Villa vs. Southampton (Lineups and Discuss)

    Apr 19, 2014, 9:27 AM EDT

    Aston Villa Getty Images

    Villa are back in the relegation battle once more, but three points against the Saints at Villa Park would do wonders for their confidence.

  3. Watch Live: Newcastle United vs. Swansea City (Lineups and Discuss)

    Apr 19, 2014, 9:22 AM EDT

    Swansea City v Newcastle United - Premier League Getty Images

    Swans still not safe, as struggling Newcastle stand in the way. Watch live, right here:

  4. Watch Live: West Ham United vs. Crystal Palace (Lineups and Discuss)

    Apr 19, 2014, 9:16 AM EDT

    Puncheon sealed his permanent move to Palace. Getty Images

    Both sides could clinch another season in the Premier League this weekend-but they’ll have to take all three points. Can either side do it?

  5. Watch Live: Cardiff City vs. Stoke City (Lineups and Discuss)

    Apr 19, 2014, 9:12 AM EDT

    Mats Moller Daehli AP

    Bluebirds continue their battle against the drop, as Potters come to town. Watch live, right here:

  6. WATCH: Premier League live on NBC Sports Live Extra – Week 35

    Apr 19, 2014, 7:39 AM EDT

    NBC Sports Live Extra

    Find out how to watch every single PL game live online of via the app:

  7. Messi to Manchester City rumors return

    Apr 19, 2014, 7:33 AM EDT

    Is Leo Messi really set to leave Barcelona? AP

    Rumors persist that Leo Messi is unhappy at Barcelona. Will Manchester City swoop in, stealing away one of the world’s best players?

  8. Watch Live: Tottenham Hotspur vs. Fulham (Lineups and Discuss)

    Apr 19, 2014, 7:03 AM EDT

    FulhamSpurs Getty Images

    A victory at White Hart Lane could secure safety for the Whites, but with Tottenham still hoping for Champions League, is there any chance?

  9. Three former players at center of Austrian match-fixing investigation

    Apr 18, 2014, 11:08 PM EDT

    Kuljic Reuters

    A trio of players have been charged in a match-fixing ring involving 17 first-division matches in the Austrian Bundesliga since 2004.

  10. Americans Abroad Preview: Howard looks for bounceback vs Manchester United

    Apr 18, 2014, 10:22 PM EDT

    Howard Getty Images

    Everton takes on Manchester United this weekend as the American shot-stopper hopes to save their Champions League dreams.

  11. Felix Magath’s blueprint to save Fulham revolves around the fans

    Apr 18, 2014, 9:09 PM EDT

    Magath Getty Images

    The German manager says when he was brought in the players were afraid of his reputation, but that fear has long since dissipated.

  12. Premier League Preview: Cardiff City vs. Stoke City

    Apr 18, 2014, 7:38 PM EDT

    Hughes Getty Images

    Stoke City are on a tear, but they have yet to truly figure things out away from the Britannia. Can Cardiff City capitalize on the Potters’ shaky away form for a second straight surprising result?

  13. Report: 10-year-old daughter of former FIFA official received over $3 million

    Apr 18, 2014, 6:53 PM EDT

    Teixeira Getty Images

    Whether this new corruption allegation implicates Ricardo Teixeira with regards to the Qatar World Cup bid or his ties to Barcelona, it’s more bad news for the former president of the Brazilian Football Confederation.

  14. US Soccer names roster for U-21 Olympic prep camp

    Apr 18, 2014, 6:09 PM EDT

    Ramos AP

    With the World Cup still over two years away, Tab Ramos is beginning preparation with North American-based players.

  15. Premier League Preview: Chelsea vs Sunderland

    Apr 18, 2014, 5:24 PM EDT

    Mourinho

    Jose Mourinho has guided Chelsea to an astonishing nine straight clean sheets at Stamford Bridge. Can the bottom-dwelling Black Cats pull off an unforseeable upset?

  16. Yaya Toure believes his African heritage hurts his world perception

    Apr 18, 2014, 4:46 PM EDT

    Toure AP

    Following in the footsteps of Samir Nasri’s comments last month, Manchester City’s Ivorian believes being from Africa is preventing him from reaching the game’s individual pinnacles.

  17. Homegrown star Shipp hoping to guide Chicago to first win of 2014

    Apr 18, 2014, 4:23 PM EDT

    Source: USA Today Source: USA Today

    With Chicago the draw specialists early on, can they beat New England on Saturday? Watch live on NBCSN, 4 p.m. ET:

  18. Valencia police issue Bale a “speeding ticket” for Copa Del Rey final goal

    Apr 18, 2014, 3:05 PM EDT

    Bale AP

    With the game played in Valencia’s Mestalla Stadium, the local law enforcement decided to have some fun…at Marc Bartra’s expense.

  19. WATCH: Premier League TV schedule – Week 35

    Apr 18, 2014, 2:30 PM EDT

    nbcsports_new

    Where and how to watch all the PL games during Week 35:

Featured video

PST Extra: Race for the PL title