By Peterking Quaye, Accra, March 28, Shout-Africa.com – Africa’s most celebrated and Chelsea hit-man striker Didier Drogba scored a brace to guide Cote d’Ivoire to a 2-1 victory over Benin in their 2012 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier on Sunday at the Ohene Djan Stadium in Accra, Ghana.
Despite playing away from home, the Ivorians were cheered on by an enthusiastic crowd, who left few patches in the 40,000-capacity stadium.The huge attendance would be the envy of premier league side, Accra Hearts of Oak, who can only boast of such a crowd in the derby clash with archrivals Asante Kotoko.
The game started on a high note and Benin pulled the first plug with Tchomogo scoring the opener on 13 minutes with a long drive that Ivorian goalie Daniel Yeboah fumbled in his response. The team , scored in each half to cancel Seidah Tchomogo’s opener in the early minutes of the first half ,Group H encounter which was shifted to Accra due to the post-election troubles in Cote d’Ivoire.
This is third successive victory in the qualifying series, the Elephants remain in a good stead to finish as winners of the group and a ticket to the 28th edition of the continental showpiece soccer event.
The Elephants, who finished the game with 10 men after Guy Demel was sent-off for a second bookable offence, later in the game struggled in search of their rhythm with captain Drogba, Salomon Kalou and pacy winger Yao Kouassi Gervais marked out by the Beninois. Gervais occasionally swapped positions with Kalou from left to right but the Benin defence remained impregnable.On the stroke of half time, Drogba drew parity with a curling shot from a Gervais pass that beat Benin goalie Bemenou Guillaume.
Cote d’Ivoire coach Francois Zahoui brought on Abdoulkader Keita and
Coulibaly Kafumba for Emmanuel Eboue and Ndri Romaric upon resumption of the second half and their presence tilted the game in their favour.
In surging runs upfront Keita posed a lot of troubles to the Benin defence and it was only a matter of time that the second goal would come.
The Beninois midfield marshaled by Captain Stephane Sessegnon of Sunderland fame crumbled and were constantly pinned to their half by the star-studded Ivorians.
On 75 minutes, Drogba headed in the second goal from Keita cross within the Benin penalty area.
Despite their numerical disadvantage, the Ivorians remained in control and coasted to victory.
Line-up: Cote d’Ivoire – Daniel Yeboah, Siaka Tiene, Steve Gohouri, Didier Zokora, Guy Demel, Ndri Rmoaric/Abdoulkader Keita, Chieck Tiote, Emmanuel Eboue/Coulibaly Kafoumba, Salomon Kalou, Didier Drogba, Kouassi Yao Gervais
Benin – Bemenou Guillaume, Chrysostome Damien, Adenon Khalid, Fousseni Lazadi, Imorou Emmanuel, Seidah Tchomogo, Jocelin Ahoueya, Kobena Nouhoum, Michael Pote, Aoudou Mohamed