Côte d'Ivoire squeeze past Libya

Didier Drogba scored again and Côte d’Ivoire are through to the quarterfinals of the African Cup of Nations. Egypt and Morocco will have to wait to find out which of them will advance.

Drogba scored his second goal in two games and the Elephants edged Libya 2-1 on Tuesday. The 0-0 draw between Egypt and Morocco in the second Group A game meant that the Côte d’Ivoire cannot finish worse than second.

“We are very happy to have qualified after the second game.
The Libyans played great football,” Côte d’Ivoire coach Henri Michel said. “For our next match against Egypt, of course we’ll play to win.”

Côte d’Ivoire is one of five African qualifiers for this summer’s World Cup in Germany, where it has what many consider the toughest group, with Argentina, The Netherlands and Serbia-Montenegro.

The Elephants have now won both their matches in Group A and have six points. Egypt has four and Morocco one. Morocco, runner-up at the last African Cup two years ago, plays Libya (0-2) in its final match. Libya is already eliminated.

The Morocco-Egypt game produced the first scoreless draw in the 16-nation tournament.

The Cairo Stadium was filled to capacity with 74 000 fans, and the game was marred by crowd trouble.

Libyan fans who stayed over from the first game ripped plastic seats and hurled them at black-uniformed, helmeted Egyptian riot police, who moved to clear that section of the stands. It was not known if there were any injuries or arrests.

Côte d’Ivoire produced another lacklustre performance, but it was enough to squeeze past Libya and into the last eight.

Chelsea striker Drogba put Côte d’Ivoire ahead after 10 minutes.

Arouna Kone broke through on the left and fired an angled shot that was stopped by Muftah Ghzalla. The Libyan goalkeeper fumbled the ball, however, and Drogba hit it into the net.

Kone and Drogba combined in the 28th, but this time it was Drogba who provided the cross. Kone connected, but headed high.

Libya defended most of the first half and struck back unexpectedly in the 41st, when Jihad Muntaser crossed and Abdelsalam Khamis rose above the defence to head in the equaliser.

Libya could have gone ahead in the 63rd, but Nader Kara shot wide after emerging alone in front of Tizie’s goal following some neat Libyan passing.

However, it regained the lead after 74 minutes following a corner—after another mistake by the Libya keeper.

Ghzalla mistimed his rush off the line and missed the cross, which Yaya Toure headed into the net. A Libya defender tried to clear off the line but the ball went over him and in.

Libya’s regular goalkeeper, Luis Agustini, was suspended after getting sent off in the 3-0 loss to Egypt in the opening match.

“It’s our first African Cup in years and our level is improving all the time and we have high hopes for future tournaments,” Libya captain Tarek Tayeb said.

In the second game, the Pharaohs were roared on by the home crowd and dominated possession but rarely came close to scoring.

Egypt should have taken the lead in the 22nd minute, but Ahmed Fathi shot wide from close range. Emad Abdelnabi missed a similar chance in second-half injury time.

Egypt’s striker Mido, who plays for Tottenham in the English Premier League, had an indifferent game and was replaced late in the match. - Sapa-AP

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