Ivory Coast head coach Fae Emerse has explained how his 10 man side managed to beat Mali 2-1 and book their place in the semi-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations in Ivory Coast on Saturday.
In a dramatic quarter-final at the Stade de la Paix in Bouake, the Elephants were dealt an early blow when Odilon Kossounou conceded a penalty and was sent off in the first half for fouling Lassine Sinayoko. However, keeper Yahia Fofana saved Adama Traore’s spot kick to keep the Elehpants level at the break.
Outnumbered, the hosts were eventually breached in the 71st minute when Mali substitute Nene Dorgeles fired in from the edge of the box to give the Eagles a deserved lead.The game went to extra time, where the heroics of keeper Fofana kept Mali at bay once more. As penalties loomed, Oumar Diakete snatched a dramatic late winner for Ivory Coast with a clever backheel finish in the 119th minute.
“I am very happy because it was a very very difficult game, we played against a tough team and they gave us a lot of problems at the first half which we had it hard,” said Emerse.
“The objective was to stop them from playing their game and we had it very hard getting at that and they actually put us in a very difficult situation because of the red card we received, it did not help us at all.
“We did not give up, we tried to put a plan into place to be able to contain them and to be able to keep the ball. We were not far from being eliminated, the players especially, didn’t give up, they fought into the end.”
He continued: “Our state of mind is to look at the scenario of the game, we were trying to win with 10 against 11, they were in the lead and it was tactically difficult for us because they were almost the best at that time. Tactically, I think we played a good game.
“These are positive signs that give hope. I prefer not have a lot of suspense, we were able to study the very beginning of the game and we had tactical problems 15 minutes into the game.”
On where Ivory Coast needs to improve, Emerse said: “We need to revise how we start our games, we have to master the game from the beginning and not to be obliged to have a lot of pressure.”