Ivory Coast star Gervinho has been banned for two matches after he was sent off in the 1-1 Africa Nations Cup draw with Guinea in Malabo on Tuesday.
The suspension means the 27-year-old will miss the Elephants’ remaining Group D games against Mali and Cameroon and will only feature again at the competition if his side reach the quarter-finals.
Gervinho was shown a straight red card in the second half of the Group D game for hitting out at Guinea’s Naby Keita.
On Wednesday, the Roma forward took to Twitter to say: “I would like to apologise to the Ivorian nation, to my team-mates, to the supporters and to the organisers of the CAN for this angry gesture which is totally out of character and evidently has no place on a football pitch.”
Without him, Herve Renhard’s side came from a goal down to pick a point, thanks to a strike from substitute Seydou Doumbia.
On Wednesday, hosts Equatorial Guinea and Burkina Faso played out a goalless draw in Bata in Group A. It was the first scoreless draw of the 2015 tournament and the host nation will have many reasons to thank goalkeeper Felipe Ovono, who several times kept out the marauding Stallions of Burkina Faso.
Equatorial Guinea now have two points from as many matches after they also drew 1-1 with Congo on the opening day of the competition. Burkina Faso again failed to convert several chances just as was the case in their first match against Gabon on Saturday.
The Stallions, who now have one point from two matches, went on the attack from the kick-off, although it took them until the 17th minute to threaten when Jonathan Pitroipa forced a fine save from Ovono. And a minute later, Alain Traore saw his free-kick from just outside the box come off the post with the Equatorial Guinea goalkeeper well beaten.
Burkina Faso continued to pile pressure on their opponents and in the 26th minute Diosdado Mbele was booked for a crunching foul on a goal-bound Pitroipa.
Aristide Bance then saw his powerful free-kick from the edge of the area blocked by the Nzalang Nacional ‘keeper, who then came to the rescue to turn an Alain Traore shot against the woodwork before also denying Bertrand Traore, the younger of the two brothers.
Hosts posed more threat in second half
The hosts posed rather more of a threat in the second half, with Javier Balboa going on a brilliant solo run and setting up Ellong Viera, although he could only blaze his shot over the bar. In the 62nd minute, Kike Boula shot straight at the Burkina Faso goalkeeper, before Bance forced Ovono to keep out a fierce shot at the other end of the pitch soon after.
Pitroipa flashed another effort wide of the mark, as a disappointing encounter fizzled out to a goalless conclusion.
In the meantime, Claude LeRoy, a veteran of 34 matches at the Africa Nations Cup steered Congo to their first win since 1974 when they beat Gabon 1-0 to move top of Group A
Prince Oniangue scored for Congo from a corner in the 48th minute. A draw against Burkina Faso on Sunday would see Congo qualify for the quarter finals.
Whoever wins between Gabon and Equatorial Guinea in Bata on Sunday will also qualify. LeRoy led Cameroon to the title in 1988. He commented: “Our game plan worked well and we are lucky that Gabon did not convert their chances.”
His opposite number Jorge Costa was gracious in defeat: “Hats off to this Congo team for their morale and mental qualities. I’ve practically never had a team that works so well tactically, even if we are lacking in certain areas. We had chances in the first half but didn’t have the luck today that we had against Burkina Faso.”