Angola out of African Cup after 2-0 loss to ICoast

Angola was eliminated from the African Cup of Nations on Monday

after a 2-0 loss to already-qualified Ivory Coast allowed Sudan to

squeeze into the quarterfinals.

Emmanuel Eboue scored in the 32nd minute and Wilfried Bony added

a second in the 64th as cup favorite Ivory Coast sealed a third

straight victory and first place in Group B.

The result meant Sudan progressed in second place on goal

difference after beating Burkina Faso 2-1 in the other group match.

Burkina Faso was already out.

Ivory Coast, which made nine changes to its starting lineup

against Angola, will play co-host Equatorial Guinea in the last

eight, while Sudan will play Zambia.

”We know the match against Equatorial Guinea will be very hard

because it’s against the organizing country and they are playing on

their home pitch,” Ivory Coast coach Francois Zahoui said.

Angola had needed only a draw to guarantee progression and coach

Lito Vidigal cut a sullen figure as he faced reporters after the

match.

”We lost because we played against a very strong team in Ivory

Coast, which is one of the main candidates to win this

tournament,” he said. ”We did a good job and worked hard, but

unfortunately we couldn’t quite make it.”

Already safely into the quarterfinals, captain Didier Drogba was

among those rested for Ivory Coast, with just central defenders

Kolo Toure and Souleymane Bamba retained from the 2-0 win against

Burkina Faso. Drogba came on as a second-half substitute.

”I’ll have a very difficult decision to make for the next

match,” Zahoui said. ”I know I’ll have this problem of too much

choice, but I’d rather have this problem than not have enough

options.”

Vidigal was forced into a goalkeeping change with Wilson

replacing the suspended Carlos Fernandes, while Dede was preferred

to Flavio.

Ivory Coast winger Max Gradel had the first opening after

turning on a throw-in and rifling a shot straight at Wilson from a

tight angle in the fifth minute.

Bony broke through the middle shortly after and drilled a low

shot that forced Wilson to dive to his right and tip the ball round

the post in the 15th minute.

Neither team found much rhythm during the opening stages in the

eerie atmosphere of the near-empty Nuevo Estadio de Malabo.

Kolo Toure blasted a low shot wide after a free kick was nudged

to him in the 23rd, while Andre Macanga sliced a long-range effort

off-target for Angola soon after.

Bony made the opening goal after a strong run into the box

before sending a cross into the middle that Miguel Quiami failed to

clear. Eboue forced the loose ball home.

Eboue was joined by Drogba and Ivory Coast’s other rested stars

for a jig at the corner flag in celebration.

In the other Group B match in Bata, Sudan led Burkina Faso 1-0

at halftime to leave the second qualification spot finely

balanced.

At that stage, another goal for Ivory Coast would have

eliminated Angola and the opening 15 minutes of the second half

were tense.

Angola’s defense then pressed the self-destruct button again as

Dany Massunguna headed a long pass from Ivory Coast substitute

Abdul Kader Keita over his own goalkeeper to present Bony with an

open goal in the 64th minute.

Angola pressured in the final stages but was unable to pierce an

Ivory Coast defense that earned its third straight clean sheet.

”We know if we leave here not having gone all the way,

everything that we have done up to now will be in vain,” Zahoui

said. ”I’ll be really happy when I have reached the goal of really

pleasing the Ivorians that are supporting us. There are a lot of

prayers behind us.”