Ivory Coast, Cameroon hang on for 1-1 draws at African Cup
MALABO, Equatorial Guinea (AP) — Both the Ivory Coast and Cameroon came into the day as big favorites at the African Cup of Nations, and both finished it happy just to avoid losing.
The Ivorians got a late equalizer from Seydou Doumbia — shortly after Gervinho was sent off with a straight red card — to earn a 1-1 draw with Guinea on Tuesday at Malabo Stadium.
A short time later at the same venue, it was Cameroon that needed a late goal from Ambroise Oyongo to hold on for a 1-1 draw against Mali.
“We bounced back. It’s a good point for us,” said Ivory Coast captain Yaya Toure, who recently won his fourth African player of the year award. “We have a couple of games coming, and I hope we will do well in them.”
The draws leave all four teams in Group D with one point. On Saturday, Ivory Coast will take on Mali and Cameroon will face Guinea.
Gervinho had been Ivory Coast’s best player, or least the one with the best chances, until a scuffle with Baissama Sankoh during an off-the-ball incident earned him a straight red in the 57th minute.
“With 10 men it was very hard,” said Ivory Coast coach Herve Renard, who led Zambia to the African Cup title in 2012. “I think the players did very well in the different organization (after the sending off).”
Doumbia, who came on in the 66th as the tactics changed, scored from in front of goal in the 72nd after a pass from Wilfried Bony. Toure was the one who started the play.
Guinea had taken the lead in the 36th when Ibrahima Traore crossed to Mohamed Yattara.
Traore then had a chance to double the lead in the 61st but his shot hit the crossbar.
“We’re not happy, because we know we could win this game,” Traore said. “We’re going to keep working hard. At the end we will win and we will qualify, because as I said we are not afraid of anyone.”
In the second match, Oyongo latched onto to a long pass from Raoul Loe in the 84th and beat Mali goalkeeper Soumaila Diakite in a fast-paced game that had several missed chances at both ends.
Sambou Yatabare had given Mali a surprising lead in the 71st, controling the ball with his chest and scoring from a tight angle after a free kick on the other side of the field.
“The manner we played this match, especially the second half, it was the manner to win the game,” Cameroon coach Volker Finke said. “The goal of Mali was a matter of concentration. The players were not concentrated.”
Cameroon, which conceded only one goal in qualifying, had chances earlier in the game but lacked quality finishing.
One of the more entertaining moments came in the 57th minute when Cameroon forward Edgar Salli bounced the ball several times on his head to evade defenders but was eventually brought down just outside the box.