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Drogba-less Ivory Coast held by Guinea

By David Legge

JOHANNESBURG (AFP) - Ivory Coast were held 0-0 at home by Guinea Wednesday in their first appearance since losing the Africa Cup of Nations final on penalties to Zambia in Libreville this month.

The Elephants lacked Didier Drogba and Salomon Kalou of Chelsea and brothers Yaya and Kolo Toure of Mancheter City and the English Premier League quartet were sorely missed at Felix Houphouet-Boigny Stadium in Abidjan.

Guinea were fortunate to survive early Ivory Coast pressure during which Arsenal striker Gervinho and Russia Footballer of the Year Seydou Doumbia from CSKA Moscow squandered chances.

Ivory Coast coach Francois Zahoui introduced Max Gradel and Didier Ya Konan for the second half, but it was Cup of Nations first round casualties Guinea who gradually took control of midfield with Thierno Bah impressive.

Senegal, who went to the Cup of Nations in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea as third favourites behind Ivory Coast and Ghana only to make a humiliating early exit after three consecutive losses, forced a 0-0 draw with South Africa in Durban.

Coach Amara Traore was sacked after the African debacle and caretakers Karim Diouf and Aliou Cisse rang the changes with strikers Demba Ba, Moussa Sow and captain Mamadou Niang among those axed.

The Teranga Lions comfortably contained a South Africa side that once again did not convert scoring chances after managing just four goals from six matches in a failed attempt to qualify for the 2012 Cup of Nations.

Leading scorer Katlego Mphela had a second-half header superbly saved by Bouna Coundoul while Dame Ndoye fired over from point-blank range in a rare Senegalese attack at rain-soaked Moses Mabhida Stadium.

Morocco, another favoured team that did not get past the first round at the Cup of Nations, defeated fellow early departees Burkina Faso 2-0 in Marrakech via goals from Mbarek Boussoufa and Youssef El Arabi.

Tunisia and Peru drew 1-1 in Tunis suburb Rades with the goals coming at the end of the first half as Wissem Yahia gave the Carthage Eagles a lead cancelled during stoppage time by visiting captain Claudio Pizarro.

Egypt maintained their recent dominance over Niger with a 1-0 victory in Qatar capital Doha courtesy of a mid-first half penalty converted by captain and midfielder Hosny Abd Rabou.

Authorities have banned football matches in Egypt since 74 people were killed this month in post-match rioting in Port Said after local club Al Masry upset Cairo giants Al Ahly in a league game.

The seven-time African champions trounced Niger 3-0 in Cairo last October in a Cup of Nations qualifier, but it was the visitors who emerged shock winners of a group that also included South Africa.

FOUR WALLS CAN'T HOLD ME TONIGHT IN YOUR ARMS, SO IF YOU ARE AN APPLE THEN LET ME HAVE A BITE.
By: FRANCIS TAWIAH ,

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