AFCON 2015: Ivory Coast defeat DR Congo to reach final
Ivory Coast’s pedigree shone through as they earned a relatively comfortable victory over DR Congo to sail into their third AFCON final in the last six editions of the tournament.
The Ivorians took the lead through African Player of the Year Yaya Toure but lost it soon after, courtesy of a Mbokani penalty. Nonetheless, their superiority prevailed as they responded on either side of half-time with Gervinho and Konan getting onto the score-sheet to seal the win.
DR Congo XI: Kidiaba, Zakuani, Kasusula, Kimwaki, Mbemba, Issama, Makiadi, Bolasie, Mabwati, Mbokani, Bokila
Ivory Coast XI: Gbohouo, Toure, Tiene, Aurier, Kanon, Bailly, Yaya Toure, Serey Die, Gervinho, Bony, Gradel
The game witnessed a frenetic start, with a high ball turnover rate and lots of fouls being committed. The low passing accuracy exhibited by both sides favoured DR Congo’s counter-attacking style and they looked the more dangerous side early on. Bokila squandered a good chance and Mbokani could not do any better on the follow up.
Ivory Coast soon settled in as the tempo cooled down and gained momentum quickly. Yaya Toure scored a contender for goal of the tournament soon afterwards; he received a pass across the box from Bony and unleashed an unstoppable shot past Kidiaba. The joy wouldn’t last long though as Bailly’s handball moments later earned the Leopards a penalty that was coolly dispatched by Mbokani.
After the short lull that brought about both goals, the game resumed its end-to-end nature and DR Congo yet again showed they were more at home; Bokila did brilliantly on the left but his cross was only sent wide by Mbokani- albeit narrowly. They would regret this going into the break as The Elephants finally got a well-worked break; they got into a 3-vs-2 situation and took full advantage. Gervinho planted his effort, yet another Bony assist, just inside the far post to restore Ivory Coast’s lead, right after the cross-bar denied him a goal from a header.
Ivory Coast resorted to counter-attacking in the second half to minimize the threat posed by their opponents and it worked fairly well. Bar a superb chance for Bolasie, DR Congo found it difficult to make clear-cut chances through build-up play.
The match was eventually sealed on the 68th minute as Konan scored off a rebound. Yaya Toure’s corner kick had found Aurier’s head but Kidiaba’s save kept him out; unfortunately, he could only direct his save at Konan who saw the ball come off his knee and go into the net.
The Ivorians now await the winner of the other semi-final between Equatorial Guinea and Ghana to determine the showpiece match in Bata.
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