Ivory Coast fancied to continue Cup of Nations revival
The Ivorians take on the Democratic Republic of Congo on Wednesday just hours after Nigeria face SA in the first semifinal
Abidjan — Hosts Ivory Coast are fancied to continue their remarkable revival at the Africa Cup of Nations and ride a frenzied wave of home support as they seek a place in the final with victory over the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The two meet in Abidjan on Wednesday just hours after Nigeria face SA in Bouake in the first semifinal. The winners advance to Sunday’s final in Abidjan.
The Ivorians have put aside their stuttering start to the tournament, including a humiliating 4-0 loss in the group stage to tiny Equatorial Guinea, to reach the final four, roared on by capacity home crowds.
They return to Abidjan’s Alassane Ouattara Olympic Stadium, which is where they delivered timid performances in the group stage but now look a revitalised side after their come-from-behind knockout round successes over holders Senegal and neighbours Mali.
“We were at the bottom of a hole after losing to Equatorial Guinea. We had to wait for the [rest of the] group matches to [finish to] find out whether we qualified, which happened. After all that we endured, we are no longer afraid of anything,” said influential Ivorian midfielder Seko Fofana.
“After the Equatorial Guinea match we were insulted and we felt alone. But we managed to get through. Champions always manage to advance,” he added.
The Ivorians take on a Congolese outfit who drew four successive matches before their 3-1 quarterfinal win over Guinea.
They had set advancing from their group as their primary ambition for the tournament so anything they achieve now is a bonus.
“But now we are in the semifinals it would be stupid not to believe we can go on and get into the final,” said coach Sebastien Desabre. The Congolese won the second of their two Cup of Nations triumphs 50 years ago when the country was known as Zaire.
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