GAMBIA LOSE TO IVORY COAST IN WC QUALIFIER
The Scorpions' confidence in the Second Round of World Cup Qualifiers against heavy favourites Ivory Coast have been dented a heavy blow after succumbing to a three nil cushion by the Elephants on Saturday March 23rd, 2013 at the Felix Houphouet Boigny stadium in Abidjan.
A star studded Ivory Coast signalled their strength over their visitors when Giovihno sent an early warning in a low drive shot five minutes after kick off but found Christopher Allen well positioned at Gambia's goal. The Elephants never relent as Check Ismail Tiote and Yaya Toure distributes orderly for Salomon Kalu but Gambia's Momodou Futi Danso blocked what could have been earlier goals for the home side four minutes after the earlier threat.
With their fruitless efforts to find Gambia's goal net, Kalu and Giovihno interchanged for the better and went well for the Arsenal forward who mesmerized the Scorpions defence but fails to find the back of net. The Elephants continued to enjoy the luxury of possession until Yaya Toure placed a neatly pass before man of the match Giovihno for the Elephants best chance of the first half but Scorpions man between the sticks was a better hero for that period.
After dwindling much of their opportunities at the final push over area blocked by Gambian defenders to safety, fans roared the name of talismanic striker Didier Drogba's inclusion who was absent at the weekend qualifier. But as they lowered their anger over their much cherished side, Wilfred Bony came deadly into Gambian defence but again to Christopher Allen who neatly put it to rest before minutes on for right full back Lamin Samateh to blocked a Giovihno threat at the edge of the penalty area.
The Gambia was not busy at upfront for only Momodou Ceesay who had a short spell and was immediately replaced for Sulayman Marreh at the hour mark for half time. Zico was plagued by a knock after he feel to the ground after a tough challenge in the air for possession.
The Scorpions went to the break goal less and now time for Giovihno to function better at Gambia's defence with a penalty he created after midfielder Yankuba Ceesay was adjudged to have caught him down. The spot kick was converted by Wilfred Bony 49th minutes on. Ivory Coast became buoyed with the goal and the Manchester City midfielder pushed harder as Scorpions gazed him run at goal. He hit the side netting but later Sanna Nyassi athletically passed through a congested left area and elaborated too much for play.
Yaya Toure was to score at all account and fifty seven minutes later, he registered his first ever goal against The Gambia. Gambia's coach Luciano Mancini effected substitution in Hamza Barry for Saihou Gassama and Omar Colley for Abdoulie Mansally but dashing efforts for the Scorpions was the end results of the day as former Chelsea forward Solomon Kalu made his name in the accounts for the third and final goal for The Elephants. A woodwork saved the visitors for a four nil gap after new entrant Didier Ya Konan hit the bar.
At post match press briefing, Gambia's Head Coach Luciano Mancini said his boys played a good performance in the first half but ' Giovihno was a big problem for the boys in the second half because he is the most dangerous player'. Asked about The Gambia's position in the rest of the qualifiers, 'we are not good at this position because the boys played well but did not win, so the position is not good to qualify. The Ivorian players are physically fit than my boys and they have techniques'. The Italian however congratulated his lads for a brave fight in the first half but was quick to add that he missed some of his key players from the match as well.
Team captain Abdou Jammeh excused that the players were tired by the fact that, 'travelling from Europe to Niger was very far and there was still fatigue in us and that took us time to settle down'. T-Boy said the boys were playing as a unit because we are mixed with some very young players who do not have any World Cup qualifying experience'. Asked about the exclusion of Didier Drogba, the Scorpions captain said that Drogba's exclusion does not mean anything to them. 'We are only concerned about ourselves and our game plan because football is not about an individual'
The thirty three thousand capacity stadium despite not even half full reverberated for the Elephants while only a fraction of Gambians showed up...The Gambia still maintains bottom of their Group C side while Ivory Coast stands a commanding lead on 7 points. The Scorpions foreign based players are leaving Abidjan on Sunday evening to their respective playing destinations while the local contingent would be flying for Banjul on Monday night.