African Cup of Nations – Ivory Coast v Egypt preview
Eurosport – Wed, 06 Feb 14:33:00 2008
Ivory Coast, beaten by Egypt on penalties in the African Cup of Nations final two years ago, have a chance to avenge that defeat when the sides meet again in their semi-final on Thursday.
Follow the match LIVE at 8.30pm Thursday on Eurosport and eurosport.yahoo.co.uk!
Ivory Coast defender Kolo Toure, who missed the 5-0 quarter-final win over Guinea with a groin injury, is expected to return for the Elephants, who should give the defending champions by far their sternest test so far.
Egypt began with a 4-2 win over Cameroon, who had still to get into their stride, then completed their group games with a 3-0 win over Sudan and draw against Zambia.
They avoided any of the big guns in the quarter-finals, when they still needed a lucky bounce to beat Angola 2-1 on Monday.
“Ivory Coast have a very good team but so have we,” said Egypt’s assistant coach Shawky Gharib.
“We played them in the final and group phase at the last Nations Cup and they didn’t beat us then, so we’re not worried about them.”
Ivory Coast sailed through their group phase with a 100 percent record, then hammered Guinea 5-0 in their quarter-final when four of the goals were scored in the last 20 minutes.
However, they appear to have been distracted by the controversy over striker Didier Drogba‘s failure to win the annual African Player of the Year award on Friday.
Drogba was not allowed by his team to attend the ceremony in Togo on Friday and the award went instead to Mali’s Frederic Kanoute.
Ivory Coast team spokesman Jean-Claude Djacas said the Confederation of African Football had planned to give the award to the Chelsea forward but decided not to after he stayed with his team in Ghana. An allegation CAF strenuously denied.
The Ivorians refused to speak to the media at all on Tuesday.
Egypt won the 2006 final on penalties following a goalless draw in which Ivory Coast complained about a number of refereeing decisions, included a penalty which Egypt missed.
Drogba missed the first penalty in the shootout and also squandered the best chance of the game late in the second half.
Probable teams: Egypt: 1-Essam Al Hadari; 5-Shady Mohamed, 6-Hani Said, 20-Wael Gomaa, 14-Sayed Moawad; 8-Hosni Abd Rabou, 11-Mohamed Shawky, 7-Ahmed Fathi, 22-Mohamed Aboutrika; 10-Emad Moteab, 19-Amr Zaki
Ivory Coast: 1-Boubacar Barry; 3-Arthur Boka, 4-Kolo Toure, 12-Abdoulaye Meite, 21-Emmanuel Eboue; 5-Didier Zokora, 19-Yaya Toure, 18-Abdelkader Keita; 8-Salomon Kalou, 15-Aruna Dindane, 11-Didier Drogba