Ivory Coast set for Nations Championship finals

2010-04-10 12:25

The number of 2011 African Nations Championship qualifiers will

rise to eight on Sunday with Ivory Coast set to secure a berth.

They lead fellow west Africans Togo 2-1 after the first leg of a

second round qualifier two weeks ago and have the advantage of playing before

their supporters.

Tiezan Kone was the Ivorian first-leg hero, scoring late in the

first half to cancel an early strike by Foovi Aguidi and snatching the winner

eight minutes from full-time in Lome.

International unknown Kone is an in-form goal poacher having struck

twice for Sewe San Pedro in the second-tier African Confederation Cup club

competition this year.

Scoring two away goals gives the country that hosted the first

Nations Championship last year a huge advantage as they can even afford to lose

1-0 at home and advance on the away-goal rule.

Winning in Togo rewarded a commitment to attack by Ivory Coast

coach Georges Kouadio, who has struggled to get players released from domestic

clubs for the qualifiers.

Kouadio said: “I kept my promise not to defend in Lome. We imposed

our style of play and this ensured a positive result.”

Hosts Sudan, defending champions Democratic Republic of Congo,

Mali, Senegal, Ghana, Niger and Cameroon have booked places at the 16-nation

championship scheduled for next January and February.

Libya or Algeria will join the qualifiers next weekend with the

other seven slots to be filled a week before the June 11 2010 Fifa World Cup

kick-off in South Africa.

The biennial Nations Championship is restricted to footballers

playing in their country of birth and DRC shocked Ghana 2-0 in the final of the

first tournament.

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