AFCON AFCON 2023: Ivory Coast relieved to win opener under pressure – Gasset

Ivory Coast head coach Jean-Louis Gasset believes winning the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations opener 2-0 against Guinea-Bissau was the best start that any team could have desired because they were playing under pressure from the packed stadium.

The Elephants wasted no time asserting dominance on home soil, taking the lead after just four minutes through Seko Fofana and they deservedly extended their advantage just before the hour mark when substitute Jean-Philippe Krasso acrobatically fired home after great work from Jonathan Bamba.

“The main thing is to win this match. Playing an opening match in a packed stadium is not cheap. It was psychologically tough but we tried to do the best we could. We had a very good start to the match where we scored a goal,” said Gasset after the game.

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“But it’s true that overall the battle was average. When we don’t have the ball we’re a little scattered. We’re going to work on it. But overall we had seven chances and we hit the post twice. We know we have a lot of work but the essential thing is there.”

He continued: “We did not have the technical mastery required to make the opponent run. We played against a real team. This is a team that loves to counter. So we had to be very attentive on all the counter balls but in the transmission, we will have to be quick to be able to score more goals. There is still work to do; it’s the start of the competition, today we are still relieved, relieved to have won the match because we were really under pressure.”

On the performance of Ousman Diomande, who was replaced, Gasset said: “He’s a young 19-year-old player, but I found him shy there. When I took him out he told me he was exhausted. All the pressures that were all around this match were terrible to deal with, especially for the young players.”

The Elephants will face a sterner test in their next Group A match against three-time champions Nigeria on Wednesday.

Dennis Mabuka

Dennis Mabuka is a seasoned Kenyan journalist with 18 years of experience covering sports events. He is currently a sport content creator with

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