THE DAY REPLAYED – Defending champions Côte d'Ivoire stuttered to a disappointing share of the spoils with Togo in their opening Group C match at the CAF Africa Cup of Nations. This was good news for Congo DR, who went top of the section after catching a profligate Morocco side on the break. FIFA.com looks back at Monday’s pair of encounters at Gabon 2017.
Côte d’Ivoire 0-0 Togo
Congo DR 1-0 Morocco
The Ivorian machine never really got going against a well-organised Togolese unit in Oyem. Les Éperviers, who got their tactics right and exhibited great teamwork, initially allowed Les Éléphants to knock the ball around in the first half, before launching a few attacking forays of their own. Efforts by Jonathan Kodjia and Wilfried Zaha both stung the hands of Togo goalkeeper Kossi Agassa, while Emmanuel Adebayor tried his best to cause havoc in the Moroccan defence without ever truly achieving his aim.
The second half continued along similar lines, although the general level of intensity increased as the Togolese began to threaten Sylvain Gbohouo’s goal more often. Overall, Claude Leroy’s men will be happy with a well-deserved point, but Michel Dussuyer’s charges will need to up their game if they wish to live up to their status of one of the pre-tournament favourites.
Morocco, meanwhile, took early control of their clash with Congo DR, whose midfield struggled to retain possession of the ball or get it forward to an isolated Cedric Bakambu. The Moroccans continued to push after the break, but Junior Kabananga gave them a mountain to climb after opening the scoring against the run of play with a tidy finish.
The goal came as a real shock to the Atlas Lions, who proceeded to miss further chances on a day that Congolese custodian Ley Matampi, who excelled throughout, will likely look back on with pride. After just one match, the Moroccans already find themselves with their backs to the wall.
Highlight of the day
Morocco set the tone in the third minute of their duel with Congo DR, as M'Bark Boussoufa struck the bar. It would be the first of many missed openings for the North Africans, much to the delight of the opportunistic Congolese.
21 – Côte d'Ivoire have not suffered a defeat in their opening Cup of Nations match for 21 years, when they lost 2-0 to Ghana at South Africa 1996. Although Les Éléphants did not pick up the three points they were hoping for against Togo, they did extend this remarkable run.
Tuesday 17 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.