Favourites Ivory Coast start with nervy win

Didier Drogba heads Ivory Coast to victory over outsiders Sudan in a tense match for Africa Cup of Nations' favourites.

     Ivory Coast players swarm around Didier Drogba after the Chelsea player gives them the lead [AFP] 

    Didier Drogba's header just before half-time was enough to give Ivory Coast a 1-0 win over rank outsiders Sudan in the African Nations Cup on Sunday.

    Sudan, fielding a side entirely made up of home-based players against an Ivorian team consisting only of foreign-based players, did enough to deserve a point in the Group B game.

    Ivory Coast, with Drogba desperate to win something for his country at the age of 33, are among the favourites but will have to improve if they are to add to their only Nations Cup title won 20 years ago.

    Gervinho and Jean-Jacques Gosso Gosso sent efforts high over the bar in a generally sluggish start by the Elephants, who seemed to struggle in the extremely muggy conditions.

    The favourites broke through four minutes from halftime when Salomon Kalou provided a perfectly-flighted cross and Drogba headed in, possibly helped by a slight deflection.

    Sudan spurred on

    However, instead of bringing the Ivorians to life, the goal seemed to have the opposite effect and they were lucky to reach the break with their lead intact.

    Almost immediately after the goal, Mohamed Ahmed Basha shot wide from an excellent position for Sudan before Mudather Tayeb hit the crossbar in the next attack.

    Undeterred, Sudan continued to push forward after halftime. Tayeb's low cross nearly got Kolo Toure into a tangle as he just managed to clear his lines and, in the next attack, goalkeeper Boubacar Barry struggled to turn away Yousef
    Alaeldin's awkward bouncing shot.

    Sudan were close again just before the hour when Tayeb had a header turned over by Barry.

    Gervinho nearly added a second with a shot which squirmed through Mahjoub El Moez's arms but the Sudanese goalkeeper managed to grab the ball as it was about to creep over the line.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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