Drogba gets Elephants off to solid start

Shout-Africa.com -African Cup 2012 Special Update – Chelsea striker Didier Drogba scored a first-half header as pre-tournament favourites Ivory Coast opened their Africa Cup of Nations campaign with a 1-0 win against Sudan on Sunday. The Elephants dominated the first half but squandered several chances before Drogba eventually opened the scoring. The 33-year-old connected with a cross from Blues team-mate Salomon Kalou in the 39th minute to cap a period of domination of the side he captains.

Drogba

Drogba

Sudan came into the game from that point on, having initially set up to contain their opponents, but Drogba’s remained the only goal of the match. Gervinho fired over with the first shot of the game before Najem Abdullah was booked for fouling the Arsenal forward. Jean-Jacques Gosso’s 25-yard swipe was wildly off target and Yaya Toure and Gervinho were off target with headers.

Gervinho lashed wastefully wide following Drogba’s superb control and lay-off but the opener finally arrived when Salomon Kalou crossed from the left for Chelsea team-mate Drogba to head home his 51st international goal.

Sudan, ranked 120th in the world compared to their opponents’ mark of 18th, almost found an immediate response when Hamid Nazar’s mishit shot was controlled by Mohamed Bashir, who fired wide, and then Eltaib Mudather cut inside and saw his shot tipped onto the crossbar by keeper Boubacar Barry. Sudan started the second half brightly but Barry saved from Alaadine Yousif and Nazar shot wide.

Gervinho’s close-range effort almost caused problems for keeper Elmuez Maghoub before Mudather injured himself as he landed awkwardly after a ludicrously ambitious overhead effort from around 30 yards The Ivory Coast looked to kill the game off but substitute Max Gradel dragged a shot hopelessly wide and Drogba volleyed over. Gervinho then struck a dropping ball just high and wide of the target and Toure got his 25-yard effort all wrong before the game petered out, Nazar shooting well wide from Sudan’s last opportunity.

MATCH FACTS

Ivory Coast: Barry, Lolo, Bamba, Toure, Tiene, Kalou (Gradel 64), Gosso, Tiote (Keita 80), Toure Yaya, Drogba, Gervinho (Doumbia 89). Subs not used: Yeboah, Boka, Zokora, Bony, Konan, Coulibaly, Eboue, Gnanahouan.

Booked: Gosso

Goal: Drogba 39.

Sudan: Maghoub, Ballah, Ali, Abdullah, Basheer, Kamal (Alrahman 62), Yousif, Nazar, Mustafa, Mudather, Bashir (Tahir 74). Subs not used: Mohammed, Eldin, Omar, Ramadan, Faisal Musa, Galag, Khalifa, Mohamed Musa, Alrahman, El Hadi.

Booked: Abdullah, Yousif.

Referee: Rajin Seechurn (Mauritius)

Attendance: 5,000.
BURKINA FASO 1 ANGOLA 2: FORMER MAN UNITED STRIKER MANUCHO SETTLES IT

Angola beat Burkina Faso in their opening match at the African Cup of Nations on Sunday thanks to Manucho’s long-range strike in the second half.

Mateus Da Costa had put Angola ahead in the just after half-time following a forgettable first half. Then Manucho, the former Manchester United striker, struck in the 68th minute after Alain Traore had leveled for Burkina Faso from a free kick in the 57th.

Both Angolan goals came from defensive blunders.

Burkina Faso coach Paulo Duarte started with Moumouni Dagano in attack, with main creative force Traore given the playmaker’s role.

Angola selected a slightly more ambitious lineup, coach Lito Vidigal fielding FC Porto striker Djalma who had support from Manucho and Da Costa.

Both teams were happy to defend in numbers however, and clear chances in the first half were rare.

Angola made the breakthrough when Burkina Faso’s Bakary Kone dithered with a clearance, allowing Da Costa to recover the ball on the edge of the box. The Portugal-based forward beat his marker and drove a right-footed shot across goalkeeper Daouda Diakite.

The game suddenly became a more interesting affair, and Traore equalized from 30 yards with a left-footed shot that went over the wall and into the bottom corner. Burkina Faso’s defence was again at fault for the second goal with Djakaridja Kone presenting the ball to Manucho just outside the box. He still had plenty to do as he took a touch to his left, but produced a fierce drive to beat Diakite and restore Angola’s lead.

Burkina Faso pushed for an equaliser with the best chance falling to Dagano, who sent a downward header straight at goalkeeper Carlos Fernandes in the 81st minute.

MATCH FACTS

Burkina Faso: Diakite, Koffi, Bakary Kone, Tall, Koulibaly (Panandetiguiri 50), Rouamba (Bance 59), Djakaridja, Kone, Kabore, Alain Traore, Pitroipa, Dagano.

Subs Not Used: Sawadogo, Gnanou, Kere, Nakoulma, Balima, Yameogo, Ouedraogo, Abdou Razak Traore, Sanou.

Booked: Koffi, Dagano, Tall.

Goals: Alain Traore 57.

Angola: Carlos Alberto, Airosa, Dani Massunguna, Zuela, Miguel,Macanga (Vunguidica 90), Djalma (Jaime 89), Gilberto, Mateus, Manucho, Flavio (Dede 61).

Subs Not Used: Wilson, Osorio, Kali, Amaro, Love, Rafael, Manucho Barros, Mingo Bile, Hugo.

Booked: Mateus, Carlos Alberto.

Goals: Mateus 47, Manucho 68.

Attendance: 17,000

Referee: Mohamed Benouza (Algeria).