International

Ivory Coast hit back to hold DR Congo

2017-01-20 21:23
Ivory Coast v DRC (Gallo Images)

Oyem - Defending champions the Ivory Coast twice came from behind to draw 2-2 with the Democratic Republic of Congo on Friday in a lively Africa Cup of Nations clash.

The result in the northern Gabonese town of Oyem kept the vibrant Congolese top of Group C with four points from two matches followed by the Ivorians with two.

Togo have one point and Morocco, their opponents later Friday in the second match of a double-header, are pointless.

Another defeat for Morocco, guided by twice Cup of Nations-winning coach Herve Renard, and they will be eliminated having gone down by a lone goal to DR Congo four days ago.

Neeskens Kebano and Junior Kabananga scored for the Congolese while Wilfried Bony and captain Geoffrey Serey Die got the Ivorian goals.

"I think we conceded easy goals," admitted Serey Die, successor to retired midfielder Yaya Toure as skipper of the Elephants.

"We have to concentrate more as we had the match in our hands. It's a shame that we woke up too late, but these lessons will serve us well in our last match."

Coach Michel Dussuyer said: "They gave us lots of problems and we suffered physically.

"We weren't attentive enough on the two goals conceded. Now we have our destiny in our hands."

The fixture has a history of goals with four previous Cup of Nations meetings delivering 13, including four when the Ivory Coast won a semi-final 3-1 two years ago.

It was no surprise, then, that a first half in which both sides were committed to attack ended 2-1 in favour of the Congolese.

Kebano put twice champions DR Congo ahead on nine minutes with a sizzling shot across goalkeeper Sylvain Gbohouo into the far corner.

The goal stemmed from a throw-in to Kabananga, who pushed it back to Kebano, whose first name stems from the respect his father had for former Dutch star Johan Neeskens.

DR Congo looked sharper than the title-holders until recalled Bony began to make an impact from midway through the half through his aerial strength.

He nodded his first chance narrowly wide and equalised on 25 minutes with a powerful glancing header past goalkeeper Ley Matampi following a corner.

The teams remained level for only three minutes, though, before Kabananga put the Congolese ahead again with his second goal of the group phase.

Left unmarked at the far post, he soared to powerfully nod a cross past Gbohouo, who plays his club football in DR Congo with six-time African champions TP Mazembe.

Ivory Coast equalised again midway through the second half with a deflected shot from Serey Die leaving Matampi stranded.

Substitute Salomon Kalou thought he had snatched a stoppage-time winner for the Ivorians with a close-range shot, but was correctly ruled offside.

Read more on:    ivory coast  |  drc  |  afcon  |  soccer
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