Cote d’Ivoire concluded their last day of the tournament qualifiers with a clinical display that saw them edge Lesotho 1-0 at a packed Laurent Pokou Stadium in San Pedro.
The 20,000-seater arena is one of the host venues for next year’s CAF Africa Cup of Nations and saw the fixture being used as one of the test runs for the venue. A solitary strike by midfield workhorse, Ibrahim Sengare in the 16th minute from the edge of the area was enough to see next year’s AFCON hosts secure a confidence-boosting win in front of their supporters.
Despite having no chance of progressing further, Lesotho came into the clash a very tactical and organized side who wanted to cause an upset in the final group clash, but an equally organized Cote d’Ivoire side – coupled with the strong support was enough to see The Elephants come out victorious.
A few good build-ups by the southern African side hardly troubled the hosts, who were quite physical against the visitors who struggled to keep up with the pace and dominance of The Elephants. In the other Group H match, Zambia finished top of the group ahead of Cote d’Ivoire after salvaging a hard-fought 1-1 draw against Comoros away from home.
A Benjaloud Youssouf strike in the 45th minute saw the islanders grab hold of the fixture in a bid to finish strong, having already lost out on a place in next year’s finals. With the backing of the home supporters, the Islanders frustrated the Zambians throughout the match, packing numbers at the back and transitioning at high speeds.
Chipolopolo did eventually find the equaliser thanks to their trusted forward, Patson Daka who levelled matters in the 71st minute to secure a point and finish top of the group to conclude the closely contested encounter.