Defending Champions, Ivory Coast Crashed Out of Africa Cup of Nations
Defending champions, Ivory Coast on Tuesday crashed out of the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Gabon, after losing their last Group C game by a lone goal to Morocco.
Morocco beat Ivory Coast 1-0 to reach the AFCON quarter-finals and knock out the champions.
Rachid Alioui scored with a terrific shot from 24 yards to earn the win for Morocco and their coach Herve Renard, who led the Ivorians to the 2014 title.
Ivory Coast needed a win to go through but gave a listless performance, creating only two notable chances.
Wilfried Zaha shot weakly from 12 yards, while Salomon Kalou’s header from a tight angle clipped a post.
The Elephants lacked urgency in their play and will now go home after appearing not to put up a fight.
Even after going behind, they were unable to cause the organised and disciplined Moroccan defence any problems.
Morocco went into the game knowing that a draw was very likely to be enough to qualify from Group C and their game plan from the start was to stay compact and hit on the counter-attack.
It served to frustrate their opponents, who opted for the long-ball approach but failed to find any penetration.
Morocco could have added a second goal on the counter-attack but 19-year-old full-back Hamza Mendyl shot into the side netting after running half the length of the pitch.
They will play the winner of Group D in the last eight on Sunday.
DR Congo reached the AFCON last eight as Group C winners with a victory that eliminated Togo.
Tournament top scorer Junior Kabananga converted Chancel Mbemba’s pass for the opener, his third goal in three games.
Kabananga hit the post with a flicked header before Ndombe Mubele doubled the lead after the break, looping the ball over the keeper amid static defending.
Kodjo Fo-Doh Laba’s tidy finish gave Togo hope, but Paul-Jose M’Poku’s free-kick secured a deserved DR Congo win.
DR Congo will go on to play the Group D runners-up in the quarter-finals, which will be either Mali, Ghana or Egypt.
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