Didier Drogba scored the only goal of the game to give Ivory Coast a friendly victory over Tanzania on Monday as the Elephants continue their build-up to the African Cup of Nations.
Drogba left Tanzanian defenders in awe when he rose to meet an Emmanuel Eboue cross and powerfully planted a header past helpless Taifa Stars goalkeeper Muharami Mohammed. The goal silenced the massive home crowd that had packed the 60,000-seat National Stadium in Dar es Salaam.
Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete was among the thousands of fans who were at the stadium to catch a close-up of Europe-based stars such as Drogba, Solomon Kalou, Kolo Toure and Eboue.
The Taifa Stars started brightly, pressing hard in the early moments of the game, but they lacked finishers with the eye for goal of a Drogba. As the first half dragged, the Elephants took control of the game and their efforts were rewarded in the 37th minute when Drogba, who had missed a few chances earlier, showed his class to net the deciding goal.
Despite the defeat, Tanzania showed character, and the difference between the two teams was arguably the quality, experience and expertise shown by the Ivorian stars.
After the break, Ivory Coast's Bosnian coach Vahid Halilhodzic rested his entire first-team squad and his gamble paid off as the Tanzanians failed to open up the new defensive line.
Tanzanian tactician Marcio Maximo also brought in Abdi Kassim, Stephan Mwasika, Musa Hassan Mgosi and John Boko in place of Nizar Khalfan, Juma Jabu, Kigi Makasi and Jerson Tegete, respectively. The new charges raised the tempo but the Ivorians firmly guarded their one-goal advantage.
Ivory Coast will play another match against Rwanda at the same venue on Thursday night, before boarding a flight to the Angolan capital, Luanda, for the Cup of Nations.