Cup holders Senegal’s Teranga Lions were knockout of the 34th Africa Cup of Nations by hosts Côte d’Ivoire in the Round of 16 last night.
After regulation and 30 minutes extra time deadlocked 1-1, the game therefore dragged into shootouts in side Stade Charles Konan Banny in Yamoussoukro, the Ivorian capital city.
Shockingly, it was the Elephants who literally sneaked into the knockout phase through the backdoor as one of the four third placed teams during the group stage playoff that won the penalty lottery 5-4. Only Senegal’s Mousa Niakhate slammed his spot kick against the upright for Côte d’Ivoire to progress at the expense of the Teranga Lions.
Senegalese, the only side to win all matches at the group stage, scored eight goals and only conceding once.
In contrast, two-time champions (1992 and 2015) Côte d’Ivoire only managed a win in Group A of Africa’s flagship football competition.
After beating Guinea-Bissau 2-0 on the opening day of AFCON 2023, the Ivorian Elephants lost to Nigeria by a lone goal and were walloped 0-4 by Equatorial Guinea, requiring a huge chunk of luck to progress to the knockout stage as one of the four best third placed saide.
Yesterday, the game was barely four minutes old when Senegal struck through Habibou Diallo to give the Teranga Lions advantage. All efforts by the defending champions to level scores were thwarted by the hosts.
Twenty-seven-year-old midfielder Franck Kessié drew the Ivorians level with four minutes to the end of regulation time. Neither side could find the net again even in extra time.
The Ivorians are to play the winner of the Mali versus B’Faso clash today in the quarter finals on Saturday.
The clash and all the remaining matches of the AFCON 2023 in Côte d’Ivoire will be aired live and in HD on Sports Premium, Sports Life and Beta Sports channels on StarTimes, as well as StarTimes-ON mobile app.