African Cup: Cote d'Ivoire stumble
OYEM, Gabon (AP) Cote d'Ivoire's Europe-based stars stumbled in the heat of northern Gabon in their African Cup of Nations opener, with the defending champions held by Togo to 0-0 yesterday in another twist to start the tournament.
Cote d'Ivoire's title-winning coach fared worse as Congo beat Herve Renard's Morocco 1-0 in the day's second game.
Congo, a team that was on strike and refusing to train two days ago, finished with 10 men on the field and on top of Group D.
Cote d'Ivoire created few clear chances against Togo, with Wilfried Zaha's blocked shot in the second half after a clever run probably their best. Zaha was substituted two minutes later and, although Cote d'Ivoire pressed hard in stages, they never broke open Togo's well-drilled defence in the first game in Group C in the northern jungle town of Oyem.
Togo were competitive in the first half and had two good openings with around 10 minutes to go, when Kodjo Laba missed with a header from in front of goal and Mathieu Dossevi's deflected shot dropped onto the roof of the net.
Four of the first six games at the African Cup have been draws, with Cote d'Ivoire's fellow title challengers, Algeria, held to 2-2 by Zimbabwe, a team that hasn't qualified for the African Cup in over a decade. Also, hosts Gabon couldn't beat outsiders and tournament debutants Guinea-Bissau in the opening game.
"After Algeria-Zimbabwe and Gabon-Guinea-Bissau, we were very careful," Cote d'Ivoire's coach Michel Dussuyer said. "But we still have two (group) matches so we are still confident."