10-man Ivory Coast rallies for Cup of Nations draw with Guinea
MALABO, Equatorial Guinea (AP) — Yaya Toure and his heavily favored Ivory Coast teammates struggled to a 1-1 draw against Guinea on Tuesday in their opening match at the African Cup of Nations.
Although Toure and Wilfried Bony set up the equalizer for substitute Seydou Doumbia, the Ivorians lost Gervinho to a red card in the second half, possible ruling him out for the rest of the group stage.
Gervinho had been Ivory Coast's best player, or at least the one with the best chances, until a scuffle with Baissama Sankoh during an off-the-ball incident earned him a straight red in the 57th minute.
"With 10 men it was very hard," said Ivory Coast coach Herve Renard, who led Zambia to the African Cup title in 2012. "I think the players did very well in the different organization (after the sending off)."
Doumbia, who came on in the 66th minute as the tactics changed, scored from close range after a pass from Bony. Toure was the one who started the move.
"We bounced back. It's a good point for us," Toure said.
Guinea had taken the lead in the 36th minute when Ibrahima Traore crossed to Mohamed Yattara, who slipped the ball into the net. Traore then had a chance to double the lead in the 61st but his shot hit the crossbar.
"We're not happy, because we know we could win this game," Traore said. "We're going to keep working hard. At the end we will win and we will qualify, because as I said we are not afraid of anyone."
Cameroon and Mali are also in Group D but have yet to play.
Both teams had other opportunities to score, with Gervinho and Bony having back-to-back chances stopped early in the first half, but it was Guinea that got the first goal.
"At this time it's a feeling of frustration because we were leading in the game," Guinea coach Michel Dussuyer said. "We were controlling the game. It's a feeling of frustration, but now it's a good result."