They might have not be pre-tournament favourites to reach this stage, but they proved worthy to compete for one of the final tickets, and an automatic qualification to next year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.
Cote d’Ivoire locks horns with neighbours Ghana in a West African derby as the ongoing Total U-23 Africa Cup of Nations reaches its semifinal stage. Both sides are aiming to continue their fairytale story with a place in the Olympics at stake.
Les Elephants started their group stage campaign with a hard-fought 1-0 victory over holders Nigeria. After losing with the same result against South Africa, they bounced to beat Zambia 1-0 and finish Group B on top.
On the other hand, Ghana’s Black Meteors came from behind to hold Cameroon to a 1-1 draw, before twice surrendering their lead to lose 3-2 against hosts Egypt. A 2-0 victory over Mali coupled with Egypt win over Cameroon guaranteed them a place in the semifinals.
While missing their star forward Christian Kouame who grabbed a knee injury that will see him sidelined for a long period, Cote d’Ivoire will be counting on the heroics of the likes of Edgard Dakoi, Youssouf Dao and skipper Ismail Diallo.
Meanwhile, Ghana led by former Black Stars midfielder Ibrahim Tanko will hope the likes of Yaw Yeboah, Evans Mensah and Habib Mohamed would be inform to inspire the Black Meteors to an Olympic return.
Tuesday 19 November 2019
Cote d’Ivoire v Ghana – Cairo International Stadium (16:00 local time, 14:00 GMT)
What they said
Soualiho Haidara (Coach, Cote d’Ivoire)
We have to be ready to face Ghana. I studied them well and we are focused and prepared. The semifinal is different from the group stage and we have to beware. We are missing a couple of key players, but whoever plays can do the job.
Ismail Diallo (Captain, Cote d’Ivoire)
We will do our best. Now we are just one step away from Tokyo 2020. We play all our games to win whoever the opponent is. Anything can happen against Ghana, and we have to be proud of ourselves now.
Ibrahim Tanko (Coach, Ghana)
Cote d’Ivoire is a difficult team and facing them is not going to be easy especially in a game of this magnitude. I trust my players to win and reach the final, and also grab the ticket for the Olympics. All my players are ready.
Yaw Yeboah (Captain, Ghana)
We are ready. All the teams in the semifinal are very strong and they deserved to be here. We will give our best to win this match and achieve our target which is a place in the Olympics.