The Elephants of Cote D’Ivoire became the first African team to qualify for the third and final round of the 2014 World Cup qualifying after beating the Taifa Stars 4-2
|Mbwana Ali Samatta|
Cote D’Ivoire defeated Tanzania 4-2 at the Benjamin Mkapa National Stadium in Dar es Salaam on Sunday to clinch Group C’s spot for the next round of the 2014 Fifa World Cup qualifying.
Goals from Lacina Traore, Yaya Toure and Bony Wilfried sealed Cote D’Ivoire’s 4-2 away triumph against the Taifa Stars to strengthen their group lead to 13 points.
A long corner throw dropped inside the Ivorian box, which was fired towards the goalmouth by a bicycle kick but defender Bamba Souleymane failed to clear, gifting a cheap ball to Amri Kiemba, who poked it into the left post to open the scoring for the host team early in the second minute.
The visitors’ reaction was immediate, as Gervinho, who was returning from a two-yellow card suspension, was set up on the right flank but after surging into the Tanzanian box dragged his fine effort too wide.
Balls moved from one end to the other, with the Taifa Stars pressing to snatch a double to comfort their lead as the Elephants, keeping their cool despite down by a lone-goal, poured forth in a bid to pull level as soon as possible.
Orange shirts became more dominant than the blue by the quarter hour mark in the Tanzania area, and Gervinho, who became too slippery for his markers, found himself to the left corner of the hosts’ area, and after taking a moment to compose himself, threaded a sublime pass to Stuttgart’s defender Arthur Boka, who dispatched it to Yaya Toure, who in turn laid for 6 ft 8 Lacina Traore of Anzhi Makhachkala, who finished the mesmerising construction inside the back net to level for his side in the 13th minute.
The West Africans began to dominate possession with short, sharp passes in the middle of the park, as the Tanzanians retreated to fend off the assaults. The Ivorians won a free kick 15 yards out before the half hour, which Yaya Toure unleashed successfully inside the goal to put the visitors ahead at 2-1 by the 23rd minute.
Buoyed by encouraging chants from supporters at the jam-packed 60,000-seater facility, the Taifa Stars retook domination, pressing the Ivorians to fight from their back half, with Didier Zokora and Souleymane saving the Elephants from conceding goals on several occasions.
However, Simba SC defender Shomari Kapombe was able to outpace two defenders from the left flank before blasting a lofted ball over the Ivorian defence which Thomas Ulimwengu of TP Mazembe chipped behind Barry Copa to equalise for the home team in the 35th minute at 2-2.
And in added time of first half, Cote D’Ivoire retook the lead at 3-2 when Toure transformed a penalty awarded to the Elephants following a rough play on Gervinho.
The second half opened with balanced exchanges, with each side fluffing a number of goal chances. But, the most genuine chance fell to Cote D’Ivoire, when enterprising Gervinho jinxed inside the Tanzania area but failed to deliver a quality strike over onrushing goalkeeper Juma Kaseja.
Jean Jacque Gosso Gosso, who was involved in a training session bust up with Manchester City’s Abdul Razack last week, thwarted a number of goal efforts from the Taifa Star, conceding a yellow card in the process, with a near miss for Mazembe striker Mbwana Samata, whose free kick in 71st minute was parried by keeper Boubacar Barry.
Tanzania seized domination in the last quarter, as the Ivorians struggled to safeguard their back half from possible havocs, from unending corner and free kicks.
With five minutes to full time, coach Kim Poulsen threw two substitutes into the fray as Bony Wilfried of Vitesse replaced Traore for Cote D’Ivoire.
The Taifa Stars were still in the ascendancy but remained unsuccessful in from of goal as the clock wound down in favour of the Ivorians, who could clinch the group’s spot with the standing result.
Second half substitute Bony Wilfried compounded issues for the home side after scoring the visitors’ fourth goal in the 93rd minute to seal their 4-2 win.
Cote D’Ivoire become the first African team to qualify for the third and final round of the 2014 World Cup qualifying.