Oyem - Ivory
Coast made a disappointing start to their Africa Cup of Nations title
defence Monday when held 0-0 by lowest Group C seeds Togo in Gabonese
Paris Saint-Germain defender Serge Aurier came close
to breaking the deadlock with two minutes remaining, heading a cross
The result maintained a trend of stalemates in the
2017 tournament, which kicked off two days ago, with four of the first
five matches failing to produce a winner.
The Ivorian starting
line-up included two English Premier League footballers, Manchester
United defender Eric Bailly and Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha.
Zaha was making his first competitive debut for the Elephants having
switched international allegiance after two friendly appearances for
adopted country England.
Togo were captained by striker Emmanuel
Adebayor, now clubless after spells with Premier League outfits Arsenal,
Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur and Crystal Palace.
chances were scarce in a first half watched by a small crowd at a
20,000-seat stadium built on the outskirts of Oyem, a town in northern
The best for the title-holders came after 10 minutes to
Jonathan Kodjia, a gangling striker with English second-tier outfit
Salomon Kalou, a survivor of the 2015 Cup of
Nations-winning team, did the spadework by dribbing past several
red-shirted Togolese before pushing the ball into the box.
darted forward with the goal in his sights, but fell as he was poised to
shoot and goalkeeper Kossi Agassa blocked the loose ball and averted
Togo had an opportunity to break the deadlock just
before the half-hour mark when a cross from the left wing found the
Ivorian defence wanting.
But goalkeeper Sylvain Gbohouo spotted
the potential danger and darted off his goalline to parry a low shot
from veteran midfielder Matthieu Dossevi.
As an equally cagey,
largely chance-less second half meandered into the final quarter, Ivory
Coast coach Michel Dussuyer substituted one Premier League attacker with
Off came Zaha and on his place arrived Wilfried Bony, an underachieving striker with Stoke City, on loan from Manchester City.
who had drawn twice and lost twice to Ivory Coast in four previous Cup
of Nations clashes, were well organised and not overawed at facing a
country ranked 21 places higher in Africa.
They had a half chance on 78 minutes as Kodjo Fo-Doh Laba evaded his marker in the goalmouth, but his header flew over.
Africa Cup of Nations Group C result in Oyem on Monday:
Ivory Coast (holders) 0 Togo 0
Democratic Republic of Congo v Morocco (21:00 SA time)