Following his brilliant performances in the first two games, Yaya Touré was given a well deserved day off as Côte d’Ivoire took on Angola in the final game of Group B. Having already qualified for the knockout stages, The Elephants took the opportunity to give the rest of the squad some game time, making nine changes from the team that beat Burkina Faso.
While the Côte d’Ivoire could be forgiven for taking it easy, Angola still had everything to play for. All they had to do was match Sudan’s result in their final group game against Burkino Faso to make it to the quarter-final. Seemingly under strength and uninterested, on paper this would be the best time to play The Elephants. However Angola underestimated just how deep this squad is as the Antelopes were charged down by the Elephants’ reserve team.
The first half was a cagey affair with both teams trading fouls in midfield as the game struggled for any rhythm. Then on 33 minutes Ivorian striker Wilfried Bony went on the first run of note beating two and crossing to an unmarked Eboue to slide the ball in from four yards from the only clear chance of the half. Cue the celebrations as players and substitutes followed the goal scorer into the corner for a 22-man dance-off in front of the jubilant fans.
To make matters worse for the Angolans, Sudan took the lead in the other Group B game at the same times as they conceded, putting them on the same points and equal goal difference. If Sudan or Côte d’Ivoire scored again Angola would need to do something nobody else has in ACON 2012 to stay in the tournament, score against The Elephants.
Pretty soon the inevitable happened. Midway through the second half, substitute Abdel-Kader Keita’s through ball had the Angolan defence confused and a mix up between defender Massunguna and goalkeeper Wilson left Wilfried to tap the ball into an empty net. As the Ivorians danced the Angolans faced elimination, which was confirmed when Sudan scored again to move into second place in Group B.
Seemingly, without too much effort the group winners had made it three wins out of three without conceding a goal. If this is how a weakened Côte d’Ivoire perform in a match they could afford to lose, other teams should be very worried about playing the first team when they have something to play for.