CAN ’10: Day 6!
It’s Day 6 of CAN ’10 and the coverage trundles along here at BOLAS & BANDEIRAS. The Black Stars of Ghana are making their tournament debut here today, what with the initial match with Togo being scratched and all. The big news is that midfield wizard Michael Essien is not starting for Ghana—he’s had a persistent hamstring problem and due to travel complications only arrived in Angola the day before yesterday.
It’s HALFTIME already in today’s centerpiece showdown and it’s Ivory Coast 1-0 Ghana!!! So far Ivory Coast are looking more fluent as a team, and hugely improved from their draw with Burkina Faso. Yaya Toure is showing the same brand of midfield swagger normally on show at Barcelona. The most marked change comes in attack, where the Kalou-Drogba-Gervinho trident has looked impressive. Indeed the goal came from a Yaya through ball which found Kalou wide on the right, centering for Gervinho to poke home. Ghana had seriously limited chances…let’s see if the newly-promoted U-20 Black Starlets can rise to the occasion in the 2nd half! Thing are getting back underway and Essien is indeed coming on—he hasn’t played a match in 5 weeks, so let’s see if he is able to adjust and give Ghana a boost.
IVORY COAST 3
That’s how it finishes…Cote D’Ivoire played the last 35 minutes of the game with 10 men after Arsenal hothead Emmanuel Eboue was sent off for a demented two-footed lunge from behind. The damage was limited 10 minutes later when they doubled their lead after midfielder Siaka Tiene scored from an extremely-well placed free kick 30 yards out. Despite mixing up their personnel a bit (Asamoah Gyan added a bit of pep) they never seriously threatened to get themselves back in the game. Ghana’s sole goal came from a 92′ penalty, however it was all a bit late as Didier Drogba opened his CAN ’10 account moments before, making it 3-0 with a headed goal.
So, Ivory Coast become the first team to qualify for the knockout stages. Ghana’s hopes of qualifying aren’t entirely dashed though—they’re through if they beat Burkina Faso on Tuesday the 19th. One of the more exciting encounters I’ve witnessed thus far, and nice to see The Elephants flaunting their pedigree as tourney faves.