Friday Jun 03, 2022. 23:07
Ivory Coast got their 2023 Africa Cup of Nations preparations underway with a 3-0 victory over Zambia at the Stade de Yamoussoukro on Friday night.
The Copper Bullets managed to hold out until the 67th minute when Serge Aurier got Jean-Louis Gasset’s side up and running before further goals from Christian Kouame and Ibrahim Sangare wrapped up the win.
The Elephants are hosting the 34th edition of Africa’s flagship competition and won’t need to qualify, leaving Zambia, Comoros and Lesotho to scrap it out in Group H for a ticket to the main event.
The hosts had the lion’s share of the possession and carved out by far the better chances in the first half as Chipolopolo just looked to contain them.
Cote d’Ivoire had an early sniff at goal when Simon Deli failed to keep his header down from a corner in the eighth minute, but they really began to ramp up the pressure midway through the first half.
After Enock Mwepu lashed a shot high and wide of the right post from inside the box in a rare attacking foray for the visitors, Ghislain Konan tested Toaster Nsabata with an angled drive on the left in the 25th minute and Sangare dragged a shot just wide of the left post two minutes later.
Max Gradel forced Nsabata into a save with a strike from range soon afterwards and the Sivasspor winger saw his next effort strike the crossbar on 36 minutes after being teed up by Sebastien Haller.
Mwepu wasted a good chance to open the scoring at the other end when he fired over from inside the area on 39 minutes, while the final action of the first half saw Haller draw a save out of Nsabata with a header from Gradel’s cross two minutes before the break.
The Southern Africans started asking questions of the home defence around the hour mark, with Roderick Kabwe, Edward Chilufya and Tandi Mwape all getting their respective shots on target but not managing to beat Badra Ali Sangare.
Those saves proved crucial as the Ivorians broke the deadlock on 67 minutes through Aurier, who was at the right place at the right time to convert a corner at close range.
Gradel threatened to double their lead with a strike from range that produced a smart save out of Nsabata on 76 minutes, but the second goal came just seconds later when Kouame steered a header into the bottom left corner of the net from the resulting set-piece.
Sangare sealed the win in the final minute with a well-placed shot into the bottom right corner of the goal from inside the box after latching onto Jean Kouassi’s cross.
Ivory Coast (0) 2 (Aurier 67, Kouame 76′, Sangare 89′)
Zambia (0) 0
Ivory Coast: B. Sangare, S. Aurier, W. Boly, S. Deli, G. Konan, J. Boga (W. Zaha 64′), J. Seri, I. Sangare, M. Gradel (P. Akouokou 87′), S. Haller (J. Kouassi 64′), C. Kouame (K. Konate 87′).
Zambia: T. Nsabata, L. Musonda, T. Mwape, F. Musonda, R. Kabwe, L. Banda (E. Chilufya 46′), E. Mwepu, E. Kangwa, P. Daka, P. Mumba (E. Banda 46′), F. Sakala.