Togo

AP Photo/Sunday Alamba

AFCON wrap: Ivory Coast bounced, DR Congo wins Group C

1 Comment

Down went another knockout round mainstay from the Africa Cup of Nations, as the Ivory Coast failed to capture one of the top two spots in Group C.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Morocco 1-0 Ivory Coast

Needing a win to move on, the Ivory Coast fell in its final group match. Rachid Alioui scored a 64th minute goal that meant the Ivory Coast needed two to advance to the quarterfinals. The goals didn’t come, and Morocco will face the Group D winner next.

Togo 1-3 DR Congo

Junior Kabananga, Paul-Jose M’Poku, and Ndombe Mubele scored as the Leopards finished the group stage with an unbeaten record of 2-1. DR Congo will face the runner-up of Group D in the quarterfinals.

Wednesday’s matches

Ghana is through with six points, while Uganda is out. Egypt will go through with a result against Ghana, while Mali needs a win and an Egypt loss to get to tiebreakers.

Egypt vs. Ghana — 2 p.m. ET
Uganda vs. Mali — 2 p.m. ET

AFCON wrap: Results keep Group C undecided

AP Photo/Sunday Alamba
Leave a comment

Like Group A, Group C in the Africa Cup of Nations has very little decided ahead of the final group stage match.

[ MORE: Guardiola “said goodbye to title” ]

Ivory Coast 2-2 DR Congo

A thrilling first half had DR Congo leading 1-0 and 2-1, with only Wilfried Bony netting for the Ivory Coast. Les Elephants grabbed a draw through Serey Die’s 67th minute goal.

DR Congo now leads the group and is primed to advance with a result against Togo or a Morocco loss or draw against Ivory Coast.

Morocco 3-1 Togo

Mathieu Dossevi gave Togo a surprise fifth minute lead lead, but Aziz Bouhaddouz kickstarted the Moroccan attack to plug the victors into Group C’s second spot ahead of a Jan. 24 showdown with Ivory Coast.

Saturday’s matches

Ghana vs. Mali — 11 a.m. ET
Egypt vs. Uganda — 2 p.m. ET

AFCON: DR Congo go top of Group C with win; Ivory Coast, Togo draw

AP Photo/Sunday Alamba
Leave a comment

A roundup of all of Monday’s action in the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations…

Ivory Coast 0-0 Togo

OYEM, Gabon (AP) Ivory Coast’s Europe-based stars stumbled in the heat of northern Gabon in their African Cup of Nations opener, with the defending champion held by Togo to 0-0 on Monday in another twist to start the tournament.

Ivory Coast’s title-winning coach fared worse as Congo beat Herve Renard’s Morocco 1-0 in the day’s second game.

Congo, a team that was on strike and refusing to train two days ago, finished with nine men on the field and on top of Group D.

Ivory Coast created few clear chances against Togo, with Wilfried Zaha‘s blocked shot in the second half after a clever run probably its best. Zaha was substituted two minutes later and, although Ivory Coast pressed hard in stages, it never broke open Togo’s well-drilled defense in the first game in Group C in the northern jungle town of Oyem.

Togo was competitive in the first half and had two good openings with around 10 minutes to go, when Kodjo Laba missed with a header from in front of goal and Mathieu Dossevi’s deflected shot dropped onto the roof of the net.

Four of the first six games at the African Cup have been draws, with Ivory Coast’s fellow title challenger, Algeria, held to 2-2 by Zimbabwe, a team that hasn’t qualified for the African Cup in over a decade. Also, host Gabon couldn’t beat outsider and tournament debutant Guinea-Bissau in the opening game.

“After Algeria-Zimbabwe and Gabon-Guinea-Bissau, we were very careful,” Ivory Coast coach Michel Dussuyer said. “But we still have two (group) matches so we are still confident.”

Togo even started better, and Dossevi was clear on goal in the 29th minute only for Ivorian goalkeeper Sylvain Gbohouo to smother the chance.

Zaha was at the heart of Ivory Coast’s two best attacks, first in the first half when he sped down the right wing and sent across a dangerous low cross that was scrambled away. Then, in the 68th minute, he tricked his marker with a clever turn, cut inside, and hit a low shot that was headed to goal before two Togo defenders managed to get in the way.

Senegal and Congo are the only teams to win at the tournament.

[ MORE: Monday’s transfer rumor roundup | Sunday | Friday | Thursday ]

DR Congo 1-0 Morocco

Junior Kabananga got the winner for Congo in the 55th minute after a mistake from Morocco `keeper Monir el-Kajoui. Congo’s Lomalisa Mutambala was sent off for a wild tackle in the 81st and played the last six minutes of normal time plus six minutes of injury time with nine men when captain Gabriel Zakuani went off injured with all their substitutes used up.

Still, victory was a major mood-changer for Congo, whose players refused to train on Friday and Saturday, claiming they hadn’t been paid tournament bonuses. They also posted a video on social media during their strike, where they complained about their treatment.

On Monday, Morocco was the one frustrated: Midfielder M’Bark Boussoufa hit the crossbar in the second minute. Goalkeeper El-Kajoui tried to block a cross with his feet and managed only to divert the ball to Kabananga to score the winning goal. Then, substitutes Youssef En Nesyri and Youssef el-Arabi missed late chances.

Although Ivory Coast and later Renard failed their first tests at the tournament, the Stade d’Oyem held up despite a desperate race to be ready in time, which saw workers scrambling around the venue finishing all sorts of jobs on the day of the game. Television viewers won’t have seen the construction debris that surrounds the outside of the stadium, which juts out of dense jungle canopy around 15 kilometers outside of Oyem.

Even organizers couldn’t do anything about the heat during the opening match, though, with Togo coach Claude le Roy’s shirt covered in dark sweat patches after urging his team on to a promising draw against the defending champion Ivorians.

“It was very hot. We were sweating so much,” Le Roy said. “We did what it takes. We are satisfied with the draw.”

Tuesday’s AFCON schedule

Ghana vs. Uganda — 11 a.m. ET
Mali vs. Egypt — 2 p.m. ET

Adebayor says he may not play for Togo at African Cup

Jamie McDonald/Getty Images
Leave a comment

LOME, Togo (AP) Togo striker Emmanuel Adebayor has suggested he won’t be available for the African Cup of Nations if he is still without a club and out-of-practice by next month.

[ MORE: NYCFC has flexible future after Lampard exit ]

Adebayor hasn’t played club football since leaving England’s Crystal Palace in June and has been criticized in Togo for being unfit and not match sharp when playing for the national team.

[ MORE: Rooney, Fabregas among targets for LA FC ]

Adebayor said in a radio interview in Togo: “If I feel that I am not ready to go to the next African Cup of Nations, I will not … This is a national team and it must go to the African Cup of Nations with players who are fit and ready.”

Adebayor said he may attend the tournament in January “to support my teammates and not to play.”

Emmanuel Adebayor out of Togo national team consideration after failing to report

1 Comment

Enough is enough for Togo head coach Tom Saintfiet. Emmanuel Adebayor won’t be back on the team so long as Saintfiet is in charge.

After the 31-year-old failed to report to national team duty, or even respond to multiple emails, texts, and phone calls, Adebayor is no longer welcome in the fold.

“If you are dating a woman who does not want to respond positively, then you must look for another woman,” Saintfiet said.

Relations between the national team and Adebayor have been cold for a while. Back in June following a 2-1 win over Liberia in which he scored the winner, he threatened to quit the team after he was removed as captain just hours before the match, replaced by Mathieu Dossevi at the time.

“For me, it is clear that it is a player who does not want to play for his country anymore,” Saintfiet said. “And he does not want his country to be qualified for the next African Cup of Nations. He has agreed to play against Liberia, and not against Djibouti. For me, it is not the duty of a player to decide against which opponent he will play.”

Despite Adebayor’s absence a week ago, Togo managed just fine, defeating Djibouti 2-0 in 2017 African Cup of Nations qualification behind goals from new captain Serge Akakpo (just three minutes in) and Alanyaspor striker Jonathan Ayite to go atop Group A.

The decision to skip national team duty may have been a very poor one personally for Adebayor. The 31-year-old has not been selected to the Tottenham squad for any of their first four Premier League matches, and was also left off the club’s Europa League squad. This would have been a chance to play and prove his worth against top competition, but instead chose to skip.