The Elephants found an equaliser despite having seen Gervinho sent off, and their midfield talisman accepts it could prove a valuable point
Yaya Toure would never have imagined, before leading Cote d’Ivoire into action against the outsiders of Group D, that he would have been happy with a 1-1 draw.
“It was a good point,” said Toure, whose team fell behind in Malabo to Guinea when their fragile defence was punished, and lost Gervinho to a red card. “We made a mistake for their goal, we lost a good player in Gervinho… there are still two games to come.”
The Cote d’Ivoire coach, Herve Renard, was also pleased with a point, which he admitted he would not have been before kick-off.
“We were not fantastic in the first half, and overall we were average,” he said. “One long cross and we are a goal down, and when Gervinho was sent off it made a tough game even harder.”
Renard responded by sending on Seydou Doumbia and the experienced defender Saka Tiene. Doumbia, set up by Wilfried Bony, scored the equaliser.
“We had to change something tactically, and we reformed. We pushed, and we scored. It was not easy but the players did well with the different formation.”
Guinea’s coach Michel Dussuyer and man-of-the-match midfielder Ibrahima Traore were both frustrated despite the excellent result against a team who had thrashed them 5-0 the last time they met in the Cup of Nations.
“We were in control of the game, and we had opportunities to score more,” said Dussuyer. “They changed to two strikers and I asked my midfield to play further back, but they scored a goal that we could have avoided.
“It’s a good result for us against a great team who have players at great clubs, but we conceded when we had an extra man. It’s frustrating.”
Traore, the Borussia Monchengladbach midfielder, said before the game that he intended to attack Cote d’Ivoire’s “weak point” – their defence. He did just that, taking on left-back Wilfried Kanon three times early in the game. On the third occasion, his cross led to Mohamed Yattara’s goal.
Cote d’Ivoire selected two newcomers in their back four. Kanon plays for ADO Den Haag in Holland, and central defender Eric Bailly has recently broken into Espanyol’s first team in La Liga. Much is expected of Bailly, who did well enough alongside 100-cap man Kolo Toure, who made three good interceptions late in the game.
“Before the game we would have been happy with a draw,” said Traore, “but we have a sense of frustration. We showed we are not afraid of anyone, that we can play against the big teams.
“We will work just as hard in our next game against Cameroon, another of the big teams.”