African champ Ivory Coast beats Angola on return to action
Yaya Toure and Ivory Cost celebrated their first game back at home since winning the African Cup of Nations by beating Angola 2-0 in a friendly on Thursday.
Defender Ousmane Viera scored in the 23rd minute at Felix Houphouet-Boigny Stadium in Abidjan, and Salomon Kalou added the second by earning and converting a 90th-minute penalty.
Europe-based Gervinho, Toure and Wilfried Bony all started, with Bony hitting the crossbar in the opening minutes.
A heavy rainstorm left the field waterlogged in places in the second half but didn’t dampen the spirits of the Ivorians, who ended a 23-year drought when they clinched their second African title last month in Equatorial Guinea.
This game was a celebration for the team and the home fans, although the African champion will also be using the international window to prepare for 2017 African Cup qualifiers, which start in June. Ivory Coast plays Equatorial Guinea on Sunday at the same stadium in another friendly.
While Ivory Coast continued its winning run, top-ranked African team Algeria slipped up with a 1-0 loss away to Qatar. Ali Assed scored for the Qataris in the first half, leaving French coach Christian Gourcuff and his Algerian squad with more disappointment following the quarterfinal exit at the African Cup.
Gourcuff said ahead of the Qatar game that there was still plenty of work to be done for the Algerians, who were Africa’s best team at last year’s World Cup in Brazil but didn’t continue that form at the Cup of Nations. The North Africans are also without dependable defender and captain Madjid Bougherra, who retired after the Cup of Nations.
Algeria didn’t create much and Qatar could have had more goals, with Ismail Mohamed hitting the post just before Assed’s strike.
Egypt left it late to beat Equatorial Guinea 2-0 in Cairo. Goals by Bassin Morsi with four minutes to go and Mahmoud Hassan deep in injury time gave new coach Hector Cuper a winning start.
The task facing Cuper is significant, however, with the record seven-time African champions tumbling out of reckoning on the continent after the political upheaval that began in 2011 with the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak.
After winning three straight African Cups from 2006-10, Egypt has failed to qualify for the last three, the first time that’s ever happened to the one-time king of African soccer.