Herve Renard knocks out former employers, DR Congo through

By alex wafula
Jan 25, 2017
  • Morocco beat Ivory Coast, the defending AFCON champions to progress to the quarter finals. (Photo Courtesy)

Ivory Coast, the African Cup of Nations defending champions have been eliminated at the group stages after losing 1-0 to Morocco on Tuesday night.

The North Africans are coached by Frenchman Herve Renard who led the Ivorians to the title in 2015.

Morocco will progress as the second placed team in Group C behind DR Congo who finished top after beating Togo 3-1 in the corresponding group fixture.

Renard who also won the AFCON with Zambia in 2012 is seeking to become the first ever coach to clinch the title thrice with three different teams.

His dream was aided by a superb Rachid Alioui goal in the 64th minute. Les Elephants had to win the final match to keep their hopes of making it into the quarter finals as they came into the final group match third on the log. Morocco only needed a draw to progress.

The Atlas Lions created the first chance after 25 minutes with Faycal Fajr seeing his freekick strike the crossbar.

Ivory Coast responded by exerting pressure in search of a goal and Wilfired Zaha came close to scoring his first ever international goal for Ivory Coast but his side foot effort from a Solomon Kalou pass was palmed away by Morocco keeper Munir Mohamedi.

Kalou came close late on again with his header at the far post coming off the crossbar.

Punished for misused possession

In the second half, Ivory Coast kept much of the ball, but they never created any danger. They were punished for misused possession, Alioui curling a superb effort from 25 yards out after a swift counter attack.

The defending champions’ efforts in the final 20 minutes of the match to grab two goals and revive their quarter final hopes went up in smoke as Morocco defended resolutely.

In the other match played in Port Gentil, DR Congo ensured their unbeaten record remained intact in a comfortable 3-1 win over Togo. The Congolese needed only a draw to assure themselves of topping the group.

Togo on the other side needed a win and hoped Morocco and Ivory Coast drew to have a qualification chance. Claude Le Roy, the Togolese coach left out veteran keeper Kossi Agassa, saying he was still mentally unsettled after his house in Lome was vandalised by fans who blamed him for the team’s defeat to Morocco on Friday.

Agassa’s replacement Baba Tchagouni had to be stretchered off iafter 23 minutes. Le Roy had to call in his third choice keeper Cedric Mensah.

The keeper who plies his trade in the French second division was welcomed with duty of picking the ball from his own net after Junior Kabananga opened the scores.

The powerful forward raced to a Chancel Mbemba through pass before outmuscling his marker and shooting into the net.

Kabananga came close

Kabananga, Congo’s biggest danger man throughout the tournament came close to a double at the stroke of half time but his header from a Neskeens Kebano corner came off the post.

Les Leopards doubled their lead in the 54th minute, Kebano looping the ball over the advancing goalie after Marcel Tisserand’s clearance found the Togolese defense off guard.

A spirited Togo who were now playing for pride halved the deficit midway through the second half. Kodjo Fo-Doh Laba beat Ley Matampi with a low effort at the far post from Floyd Ayite’s pass.

But DR Congo restored their two-goal advantage through substitute Paul-Jose Mpoku with a fine freekick from the edge of the box which hit the underside of the bar on its way over the line.

The loss was just another page on the diary of Le Roy, the ‘white witchdoctor’ who has also coached Senegal, Cameroon, DR Congo, Congo Brazzaville and Ghana. Whether this was his last appearence in AFCON is debatable.

In the quarter finals, DR Congo will meet the second placed team from Group D while Morocco will meet the winners.

On Friday, the final standings of the group will be determined when Ghana take on Egypt and Mali tackle Uganda.

Mali’s only chance of progressing is as the second placed team and they should beat Uganda and hope Ghana beat Egypt.

A draw between the Black Stars and Pharaohs will see them finished first and second consecutively. If Egypt wins, they will top the group and Ghana drop to second.