‘No stopping here for Cote d’Ivoire’

‘No stopping here for Cote d’Ivoire’

Cote d’Ivoire caretaker coach Emerse Fae says his team ‘must not stop here’ after their mon­umental penalty shootout victory over Senegal in the TotalEnergies CAF Africa Cup of Nations last 16.

The tournament hosts eliminated the reigning champions 5-4 on penal­ties on Monday following a 1-1 draw after extra time to book their spot in the quarter-finals.

In front of a raucous home crowd at the Stade Charles Konan Banny in Yamoussoukro, Senegal made a blistering start and took the lead just four minutes in.

A superb cross from Sadio Mane found Habib Diallo, who calmly chested the ball down before firing a rocket into the top corner.

Cote d’Ivoire were unfazed and continued pressing and when the game turned on a pivotal 86th minute moment when the host nation was award­ed a penalty as Pepe was clumsily brought down by Edouard Mendy.

After VAR reviewed the incident, Franck Kessie coolly sent Mendy the wrong way from the spot to equalise.

In the shootout, Kessie stepped up to smash home the winning kick and send the home crowd into ecstasy.

It capped a remarkable turn­around for the Elephants after a di­sastrous group stage saw them suffer two defeats, including a humiliating 4-0 loss to Equatorial Guinea.

“We had a difficult start, con­ceding an early goal, but I told the players at halftime to keep playing the same way, not get confused,” said Fae.

Unlike under previous coach Jean-Louis Gasset, Fae took full responsibility for tactical decisions during the match.

“It was my decision on what need­ed to be done. With Gasset, I would give an opinion and he would make the decision,” Fae explained.

The interim boss admitted he was under intense pressure before the Senegal showdown.

“There was a lot of pressure be­fore the match, and match day was too long for me. I couldn’t nap as usual, thinking about all scenarios. If I said there was no pressure, I would be lying,” Fae confessed.

But scraping through the group stage boosted belief before facing the champions.

“Qualifying after Morocco’s win gave us confidence. We beat Sene­gal and eliminated them; morale is good,” said Fae.

With a place now booked in the quarter-finals, Fae stressed the team cannot get carried away by this result as tougher tests lie ahead.

“We must not stop here; we must continue working, maintain this morale, and keep playing match by match,” the coach asserted.

After inspiring a remarkable re­versal in fortunes, Fae seems deter­mined to ensure this giant-killing act is just the start as the Elephants seek further AFCON glory. — Cafonline.com

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