Ivorians Will Now Be Excited About Their Chances Of Reaching The Final

Host nation Ivory Coast kept up their fantastic run at the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations as they fought against eminent loss to beat Mali 2-1 in Saturday’s quarterfinal. The Elephants scored a last-minute goal in additional time to book a semifinal game with the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The Ivorians, who played with ten men for the majority of the match after Odilon Kossounou was sent off shortly before halftime, won the game with a touch from Oumar Diakité.

Nene Dorgeles gave Mali the lead in the 71st minute, but the home team, cheered on by the crowd at the Stade de la Paix, fought back and scored an equalizer in the 90th minute through Simon Adingra to force extra time.

Diakite then scored the winner prior to being taken off after taking his shirt off in celebration. At the final whistle, Mali’s Hamari Traoré received a red card as well.

Despite a 4-0 defeat to Equatorial Guinea, the Ivorians entered the knockout stage as one of the four best third-place finishers. However, in the round of 16, the team resurrected their hopes by beating holders Senegal on penalties.

After yet another display of mental toughness, determination, and luck, the Ivorians will now be excited about their chances of reaching the final next weekend.

There were early panics for the home team as Mali made an irate beginning while the Ivorians looked anxious and battling with the weight of assumption.

In the 6th minute, Sikou Niakate’s close-range effort in a goalmouth scramble struck Kossounou on the hand but a lengthy VAR check showed Niakate had come from an offside position before striking the ball and Mali were not awarded a penalty.

Be that as it may, after five minutes Kossounou slipped as he pursued Lassine Sinayoko to a ball over the top and thumped the Mali striker off his feet with the referee having no delay in giving a spot kick.

Adama Traoré hit the ball to the right corner but Yahia Fofana put areas of strength for an out to make a sublime save.

Kossounou’s luck ran out two minutes before halftime when Jean Michaël Seri lost possession to allow Sinayako to run at the Ivorian goal and the centre back fouled him, earning a second caution to leave the hosts down to 10 men.

Ivory Coast continued to fight on with the one-man drawback after the break and there were not many opportunities for Mali, but they still forced a breakthrough when substitute Dorgeles fired home a spectacular long-range shot.

Dorgeles, who cut inside from the wing before setting his sights and hitting a bullet-like effort from outside the Ivorian penalty area that goalkeeper Fofana stood and watched fly into the net.

The Ivorians pushed for an equaliser which they eventually found when Adingra struck in the 90th minute. The winger dribbled into the box before laying the ball for Fofana, whose shot was blocked by defender Boubacar Kouyate but the rebound fell for Adingra to hit in.

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Sébastien Haller headed against the bar in additional time and the match was making a beeline for penalties until the dying minutes when Mali cleared a setpiece to Fofana, who lost the ball at goal and it took a slight redirection off Diakite for a dramatic end.

As per the coach of the Elephants of Cote d’Ivoire Emerse Fae , they were ‘dead’ but have now ‘resurrected’. He stated that they have miraculously advanced to the semifinals after a disastrous start.

After the host nation’s disastrous start to the competition resulted in the firing of coach Jean Louis Gasset, Fae was appointed interim coach of the team.

Since Fae assume control over the team, he has now directed the side to the last four and his major aspiration is to reach at the finals of the competition.

“I told the players we were dead after the defeat against Equatorial Guinea, and we were resurrected after the Morocco game with Zambia.”

Fae admitted that the dramatic victory for Mali caused him to experience a whirlwind of emotions. He continued, “I had all the emotions running through my head, trying to reflect to see the ideal substitutions,” he said.

With the Elephants excelling after being written off, Faé is taking nothing for granted ahead of facing DR Congo.

“When you reach the semi-finals, you play with teams of high quality, so we are going to prepare ourselves,” the coach asserted.

After the embarrassment of the group stage, Faé has masterminded a remarkable reversal of fortunes.

His revived Elephants now stand only two games from inconceivably winning the competition.

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