Cote D’Ivoire yesterday started their 2012 Africa Cup of Nations title challenge with a slim victory over Sudan in Malabo. The Ivorians won 1-0.
A Didier Drogba header on 39 minutes was all that separated the two sides at the end of regulation time.
The game started with the highly-rated Elephants, considered by many to be the favourites to collect the title, dictating the pace of things as they held possession and launched attacks on the Falcons of Jediane’s goal area.
Fielding a strong attacking line up, the Ivorians surged forward through Chelsea strikers Drogba and Salomon Kalou as well as Arsenal’s Gervinho in a three-pronged strikeforce.
They were assisted in the midfield by Manchester City’s reigning African Player of the Year Yaya Toure, who broke down attacks from the Sudanese midfielders and set his team-mates through on goal.
The first attempt of the Sudanese to go forward came on 10 minutes but that was quickly broken up by the strong Ivorian midfield. It was an indication of confidence gained after they had played the opening spell in a cagey, defensive mode.
The Ivorians had their first opportunity to shoot at goal when Gervinho earned a free kick from just outside the box. Drogba’s resulting kick was tame and it was kept out by the Sudanese defence.
Drogba and Co kept in search of their opening goal with further attempts from the Chelsea man and Jean-Jacques Gosso both going wide.
The deadlock was broken as the game neared the interval when Kalou ran wide to the left before crossing to the middle, where Drogba rose highest to nod past Elmuez Mahgoub in the Falcon’s goal.