Holders Ivory Coast ousted from Cup of Nations

Morocco's players celebrate after scoring a goal against Ivory Coast during the Africa Cup of Nations match in Oyem on Tuesday night. (AFP)
Updated 25 January 2017
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Holders Ivory Coast ousted from Cup of Nations

OYEM, Gabon: Defending champions the Ivory Coast were sent packing from the Africa Cup of Nations on Tuesday after losing 1-0 to a Morocco side coached by their old boss Herve Renard.
A brilliant Rachid Alioui goal gave Morocco the victory in Oyem in northern Gabon as the Atlas Lions marched on to the quarterfinals alongside DR Congo.
An impressive Congolese side eased to a 3-1 win against Togo in the night’s other game in Port-Gentil as they sealed top spot in Group C.
But it is the elimination of the Elephants, winners in 2015 after a penalty shoot-out against Ghana, that overshadows all else.
Their departure is the latest blow to the tournament following premature exits for hosts Gabon and much-fancied Algeria in the last few days.
And for the fourth consecutive Cup of Nations, the reigning champions will be absent from the quarterfinals, but the winning coach from two years ago will be in the last eight.
The blond, bronzed 48-year-old, wearing his lucky white shirt, hopes to become the first coach to win three Cup of Nations titles with three different countries having also won it with Zambia in 2012.
“Today we beat the Ivory Coast on a bad pitch that proved to be a leveller. Now a new competition begins with the knockout matches, which will be much like this one, and we will need a winning mentality,” Renard said.
Alioui, of French second-tier side Nimes, curled in a sublime long-range effort at the end of a counterattack just past the hour mark to break the deadlock and leave the Ivorians needing to score twice to stay alive. They could not.
“It is an immense disappointment. My thoughts go out to all Ivorians who are going through a difficult time,” said their French coach Michel Dussuyer.
“I take responsibility. We did not fulfil our objectives. Our ambition was to get past the first round and retain our title. It is going to be a difficult night,” he added as he refused to be drawn on his future in the job.
As the Ivorians prepare to go home, Morocco will now head to Port-Gentil for a quarterfinal while DR Congo make their way back to Oyem.
Florent Ibenge’s side needed just a draw to qualify but a 3-1 win over Togo secured top spot and the manner of their performance on a shocking pitch suggests the 2015 semifinalists must be seen as genuine contenders to win the trophy now.
Junior Kabananga fired past Togo’s substitute goalkeeper Cedric Mensah for the opener just before the half-hour mark and he also headed against the post prior to the interval.
Neeskens Kebano of Fulham lobbed in the second goal nine minutes into the second period after latching onto Marcel Tisserand’s punt downfield.
Kodjo Fo-Doh Laba pulled one back for Togo but a Paul-Jose Mpoku free kick with 10 minutes left that struck the underside of the bar and came down just over the line secured the win.
“Having gone top of the group after two rounds of games we needed to remain vigilant and we did that,” said Ibenge.
“They gave us a fright after we had gone 2-0 up and had we not matured as a team thanks to the two years we have spent together we might have panicked.”
Togo and their captain Emmanuel Adebayor were given a guard of honor at the end by the Congolese players but they go home having failed to register a win.
The group stage concludes on Wednesday when Ghana and Egypt clash in Port-Gentil and Mali meet already-eliminated Uganda in Oyem in Group D.
Egypt needs a draw to secure progress to the last eight along with Ghana, but if they slip up Mali could take advantage by beating the Ugandans.

Today’s matches

Egypt vs. Ghana (10:00 p.m. KSA time)

Uganda vs. Mali (10: 00 p.m. KSA time)


Brazil jeered again after 0-0 draw against Venezuela

Updated 20 June 2019
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Brazil jeered again after 0-0 draw against Venezuela

  • Brazil had two goals reversed by video review because of offside calls

SALVADOR: Brazil followed a lackluster win over Bolivia with a scoreless draw against Venezuela in the Copa America on Tuesday, prompting more jeers from local fans.

Brazil had two goals reversed by video review because of offside calls, one by Gabriel Jesus early in the second half and another by Philippe Coutinho near the end of the match.

Brazil played better than they did in the opener against Bolivia, but were not able to break through the stout Venezuelan defense at the Arena Fonte Nova. Despite the setback, the hosts stayed at the top of Group A with four points, tied with Peru, which earlier Tuesday defeated Bolivia 3-1 in Rio de Janeiro. Venezuela, which opened with a 0-0 draw against Peru, has two points.

The group will be decided on Saturday with Brazil facing Peru in Sao Paulo and Venezuela taking on Bolivia in Belo Horizonte. The top two teams in each group advance to the next round, along with the two best third-place finishers.

Brazil thought they had scored with substitute Gabriel Jesus shortly after halftime, but the goal was disallowed after a review showed that Roberto Firmino, who made the pass to the Manchester City striker, was offside when the ball deflected off a Venezuela defender. The Brazilians complained, arguing that it was a pass — not a deflection — by the defender.

Coutinho’s goal with about five minutes left in regulation was reversed because his close-range shot deflected off Firmino, who was in an offside position in front of the net. The goal would have stood had the ball not touched the Liverpool forward.

Firmino had a goal disallowed late in the first half for pulling a defender inside the area before he scored.

Brazil’s first goal in the 3-0 win over Bolivia on Friday had come from a penalty awarded by video review.

The team had been jeered by fans in Sao Paulo after a lackluster first half against the Bolivians, but this time the crowd of nearly 42,000 fans in Salvador started booing closer to the end of the match at the Arena Fonte Nova. They also chanted “ole, ole” as the Venezuelans exchanged passes near the end.

Many had also jeered coach Tite when he replaced Casemiro by defensive midfielder Fernandinho instead of an attacking player.

It was Venezuela which had the best scoring opportunity in the first half with a close-range header by striker Salomon Rondon that missed just wide.

Brazil nearly got the winner in second-half stoppage time with a header by Fernandinho that nearly found the far corner.

Brazil are seeking a ninth Copa America title. They won the tournament all four previous times it hosted the event, the last time in 1989.

Venezuela’s best Copa finish was a fourth place in 2011.