Ivory Coast and Togo played to a goalless draw in a 2017 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) Group C game at the Stade d’Oyem in the Gabonese city of Oyem on Monday evening.
The Elephants of Ivory Coast went into the game hoping to start their title defence with a victory over Togo’s Sparrow Hawks.
The first real chance of the game fell for Ivory Coast striker Jonathan Kodjia, who was through on goal, but his low shot was brilliantly saved by Togo goalkeeper Kossi Agassa just ten minutes into the game.
The Sparrow Hawks also had a chance to open the scoring 14 minutes later when Emmanuel Adebayor’s back-heel found Kodjo Laba, who beat his marker, but fired inches wide of the target.
Togo were growing in confidence and they should have taken the lead a minute before the half-hour mark following a swift counter attack by Claude Le Roy’s men.
However, somehow Togo midfielder Mathieu Dossevi was denied by Ivory Coast goalkeeper Slyvain Gbohouo from a one-on-one situation following a great pass from Ihlas Bebou.
The Elephants conceded several corner-kicks in the late stages of the first half, but the defending Afcon champions did well to clear their lines and, ultimately, the first half ended goalless.
Just 12 minutes after the restart, Wilfried Zaha, who was making his competitive debut for Ivory Coast, cut inside and unleashed a powerful shot which sailed just over the crossbar.
With his side struggling to penetrate the Togolese defence, Michel Dussuyer made the first change of the game – introducing attack-minded Cheick Doukoure in the 65th minute.
The Elephants were doing most of the attacking in the late stages and ten minutes later Kodjia, who had moved to the right after Wilfried Bony’s introduction, saw his cross gathered with ease by Agassa.
Serge Aurier should have snatched the winning goal for Ivory Coast with two minutes left on the clock, but the fullback headed wide from close range following an inch-perfect cross from Max Gradel.
Nevertheless, the two sides were unable to find the winning goal in stoppage time as they settled for a stalemate – the first goalless draw of the tournament.
Ivory Coast 0
Ivory Coast: Gbohouo; Aurier, Bailly, Kanon, A.Traore; Serey Die, Seri (Doukoure 65′), Kessie; Zaha (Bony 70′), Kodjia (Gradel 83′), Kalou.
Togo: Agassa; Gakpe, Romao, Ouro-Akoriko, Djene; Dossevi (Agbegniadan 87′), F.Ayite, Atakora, Bebou; Laba (Akakpo 82′), Adebayor (Boukari 89′).
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