Drogba Sees Elephants Home
Cairo - January 21, 2006
A cooly-taken if controversial first half penalty from captain Didier Drogba gave Cote D’Ivoire victory over Morocco in their MTN Africa Cup of Nations Group A clash at Cairo International Stadium on Saturday.
This was, in truth, an awful game, with few opportunities for either side, though the Atlas Lions will rue Youssef Hadji’s glaring miss just ten minutes before Drogba struck, and will feel they had enough play to get at least a point.
Both side’s looked lethargic from the start with build-up slow and ideas few.
The Ivoirans seemed to want to punt everything at Chelsea striker Drogba, a tactic which just didn’t work with the experienced Noureddine Naybet looking as assured as ever.
Drogba did nearly score, however, on 25 minutes, when Kanga Akale’s shot was parried by Morocco goalkeeper Tarek Jamouni.
Drogba headed the rebound towards goal, but Naybet cleared off the line.
Three minutes later, Morocco really should have scored when Hadji found himself with acres of space inside the Ivorian penalty area.
Inexplicably, however, he dragged his shot wide.
And on 38 minutes Cote D’Ivoire took the lead.
Nantes’ Emerse Fae, making his first start for his country, broke down the right and finally found a decent pass to release Drogba.
The powerful striker went down under the challenge of Hoalid Regragui.
The contact seemed minimal to say the least, but South African referee Jerome Damon pointed to the spot.
Drogba brushed himself off to power the spot kick into the corner of the net.
Marouane Chamakh did trouble Ivoiran ‘keeper Jean-Jacques Tizie with a header, but there was little else of note in the first half And the second half continued the tedium of the first.
Morocco got a series of dangerous crosses into the box, but no one ever looked like getting on the end of them.
Hadji did think momentarily he had scored on 73 minutes but the ‘goal’ was ruled out for offside.
Cote D’Ivoire seemed happy with their only goal and even pulled off Drogba on the hour mark.
Both sides, however, will surely have to improve drastically if they are to make a serious impact on the competition.
MTN Man of the Match: Jean-Jacques Tizie (I.Coast - Taraji)