Cote d’Ivoire/Congo-Kinshasa: Elephants Scramble to Stay in Running at Afcon

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\n \n Photo: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

\n Neeskeng Kebano of the DR Congo somersaults in celebration of his goal against Cote d’Ivoire in their Africa Cup of Nations finals clash.

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Title holders Cote d’Ivoire stand on the brink of an embarrassing early elimination from the 2017 African Nations Cup finals after a scrambling 2-2 draw with Group C leaders DR Congo in Oyem on Friday.

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The Elephants were twice forced to come from behind to secure a point that leaves them third in the pool, two points behind the Congolese and one shy of second-placed Morocco, who they meet in their final match on Tuesday.

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That is now a must-win game for coach Michel Dussuyer. There is a sense of déjà vu for the side – they followed a similar path in the 2015 finals in Equatorial Guinea, before going on to lift the title.

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On that occasion they managed successive 1-1 draws with Guinea and Mali before scraping past Cameroon 1-0 to top the pool and move into the quarterfinals.

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Ivorian captain Geoffroy Serey Die struck a second half equaliser on Friday with a deflected shot to keep alive their chances of advancing to the knockout phase.

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Neeskens Kebano had handed the Congolese a 10th minute lead but Wilfried Bony equalised 16 minutes later. The Congolese quickly restored their lead through Junior Kabananga before Serey Die rescued the point for the champions in the 67th minute.

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The Ivorians could have snatched victory when Salomon Kalou converted a long free kick two minutes into stoppage time but was caught marginally offside.

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“Of course we would have liked to win,” Ivorian coach Michel Dussuyer said. “DR Congo caused us many problems. We suffered in the physical battle. We were not concentrating enough for both goals.

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“This result, we take it. We keep our destiny in our hands, that’s what’s important. Everything will be decided at the last day.

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“What I am happy about is that we came back every time. The reaction was there and this is largely positive. This bodes well for the last game.”

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DR Congo coach Florent Ibenge was not happy with his side’s defending, but conceded that a point was a good result for his team, who now need just another draw against Togo in their final match to advance to the quarterfinals.
“The course of the game leaves us a little bitter,” he said. “We should expect to defend better. When you look, they [Cote d’Ivoire] had too many opportunities on set pieces. We will take the draw.”

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Ibenge praised the effort of his side and the work put in by the whole team, which he says showed great commitment to the cause.

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“What warms my heart is that my players were shot [tired] after a draw against the Cote d’Ivoire. That means we’re on the right track.”

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