Cote d’Ivoire sent a strong warning to their 2023 Africa Cup of Nations rivals by thrashing Sierra Leone 5-1 in Saturday’s friendly ahead of hosting the continental showpiece.
The Elephants put on an attacking masterclass to sweep aside the Leone Stars in San Pedro, a week before the tournament kicks off. Defender Ousmane Diomandé opened the scoring on 17 minutes, superbly teed up by Jeremie Boga from a free-kick.
Franck Kessie then lit up the Stade Laurent Pokou by rocketing an unstoppable volley into the top corner to make it 2-0 after 37 minutes. Jonathan Bamba added a third for the rampant Ivorians just before the break, coolly rounding the goalkeeper to stroke home after an incisive team move.
Boga turned from provider to scorer early in the second period, exquisitely curling a free-kick beyond the despairing dive of Mohamed Kamara. Substitute Lazare Amani grabbed Ivory Coast’s fifth late on before Rodney Strasser netted a consolation penalty for the overwhelmed Sierra Leoneans.
The imperious win sends an ominous message to Group A rivals Nigeria, Guinea-Bissau and Equatorial Guinea.