Drogba hails fighting spirit

2010-01-16 06:34
Ivory Coast captain (file)

Cabinda - Ivory Coast captain Didier Drogba on Friday hailed his side's fighting spirit after the Elephants became the first side to qualify for the quarter-finals at the Africa Cup of Nations.

The 3-1 win in Cabinda takes the side to four points and as - following Togo's withdrawal after a deadly ambush on their team bus - there are only three teams in the group, the Elephants can finish no worse than second.

Although they played most of the second half with just ten men after Emmanuel Eboue was sent off for a two-footed challenge, the Ivorians were simply too strong for Ghana and won through goals by Gervinho, Siaka Tiene and Drogba.

Asamoah Gyan pulled one back for Ghana from the penalty spot in second half injury time.

The Ivorians were criticized after the goalless draw in their opening game against Burkina Faso and Drogba said he was happy the side bounced back.

"We always knew that we still had a chance and we wanted to show that we still had the spirit. I think we did that. We also showed that we were unlucky in the first game, but we also have to say that Burkina Faso defended well against us."

The Chelsea striker praised their opponents. "Ghana are a very competitive side and they made it hard for us to score."

Ivory Coast's first chance fell to Didier Zokora, but he saw his shot well saved by Richard Kingson in the 19th minute, with the Wigan custodian again denying the Sevilla midfielder just a few minutes later.

It was only a matter of time though, when the goal would fall and on 23 minutes Salomon Kalou played a through ball to Gervinho, who side-footed the ball into the net.

It took Ghana's Black Star's some time to get into the match, but Kwadwo Asamoah nearly found an equalizer six minutes from the break when his shot from the edge of the area forced Boubacar Barry into a great save.

At half time Ghana coach Milovan Rajeva brought on Chelsea's Michael Essien in an attempt to strengthen their midfield.

Their efforts to get back into the game received a serious set- back ten minutes after the restart though when Eboue was sent off for a lunging two-footed tackle on Opoku Agyemang.

The Arsenal defender, who became the first player to be red-carded at the tournament, will now miss at least the quarter-final.

Ghana immediately made their numerical advantage count as they pushed forward in search of an equalizer. Matthew Amoah saw his volley strike the post in the 57th minute, while Barry needed to make a leaping save shortly afterwards from an Asamoah strike.

Against the run of play Tiene made it two for the Elephants in the 66th minute with a free-kick from 32 metres which the Valenciennes defender placed just under the crossbar in the left corner, beating Kingson.

Although playing with a man more Ghana could not come back into the game and Drogba gave Ivory Coast a third goal in the last minute of the game with a powerful header from an Abdelkader Keita cross.

Instead of celebrating Drogba's goal, Ivorian goalkeeper Barry held a scarf with a message in support of the Togo side into the TV cameras.

Three minutes into injury time Gyan pulled one back for the Black Stars from the penalty spot after Scottish-based Souleymane Bamba brought down a Ghanaian player in the area.

Read more on:    didier drogba  |  afcon

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