THE DAY REPLAYED – Congo DR underlined their CAF Africa Cup of Nations potential on Friday by causing holders Côte d'Ivoire a genuine scare in Group C. The second round of games in the section also brought a valuable victory for Morocco, who boosted their qualification hopes in Gabon by seeing off Togo. FIFA.com recaps the action from both matches.
The day's results
Côte d'Ivoire 2-2 Congo DR
Morocco 3-1 Togo
Defences have tended to enjoy the upper hand at Gabon 2017, but it was a very different story on Friday, as Côte d'Ivoire and Congo DR set an attacking tone. Both sides were in hungry mood, and although their finishing did not always match up to the intensity, Neeskens Kebano quickly opened the scoring with a powerful first-time effort. That put the Elephants on the back foot, and the excitement only built, as the Leopards looked to double their lead. It was Côte d'Ivoire who struck next, however, as Wilfried Bony equalised with a header before Junior Kabananga nodded in just two minutes later to put his team back in front. It was a similar story after the interval, with the Oyem crowd treated to a string of chances, though there was just one more goal to come, as Ivorian captain Serey Die secured a 2-2 draw. The African champions must now beat Morocco to secure their progress from the group stage, while Congo DR stand on the verge of a last-eight berth.
As for Morocco, the frustration endured after their loss to the Leopards was replaced by relief at the end of their game against Togo. Given a shock when Mathieu Dossevi's angled finish on five minutes capped an excellent team move on the counter-attack, the Atlas Lions duly responded with character and control. They led just 16 minutes later, Aziz Bouhaddouz and Romain Saiss turning the tide – though the Sparrow Hawks were not done yet, much in thanks to national legend Emmanuel Adebayor. The 32-year-old led the resistance, popping up all over the pitch and enjoying plenty of support from Dossevi, but his side could not snuff out the pressure at the other end. Instead, Nabil Dirar and M'Bark Boussoufa terrorised the Togolese defence before Youssef En-Nesyri put the result beyond doubt to leave Morocco well placed to advance. Togo's hopes, on the other hand, now hang by a thread.
Highlight of the day
On target for the second time in two games, Kabananga is clearly anxious to seize his chance after almost missing the cut for Gabon 2017. The Astana forward was called up at the last minute by Congo DR coach Jean-Florent Ibenge, and he repaid that faith yet again with an assist and his team's second goal against Côte d'Ivoire, both delivered with startling ease. Having already hit the winner in the Leopards' opening match against Morocco, the former Anderlecht player is in good form at present.
3 – The number of goals scored in the first half of both games on Friday after the four teams mustered just a single strike between them on the first day of action in Group C.
Saturday 21 January (all times local)
The winners of the CAF Africa Cup of Nations Gabon 2017 will represent the continent at the FIFA Confederations Cup Russia 2017