|Pre-match Ceremony: Officials and the two teams march on to the pitch (Photo Credit: M.S.Joof/TNBES/June2013)|
Africa’s top ranked side, Ivory Coast defeated The Gambia at the Independence Stadium in Bakau by 3-0 in Saturday’s Brazil 2014 World Cup qualifier.
Goals from Lacina Traore, Wilfred Bony and Yaya Toure in the 13th, 61st and 90th minute ensured the elephants remain at the top of Group C with 10 points while the scorpions still languish at the bottom with 1 point.
In front of more 20, 000 fans, The Gambia took the game to the Ivorians with Mustapha Jarju missing out on the first clear cut chance, a low near post cross from midfielder Demba Savage as early as 5 minutes.
Five minutes later, Jarju break into a one-on-one situation with Ivory Coast goalkeeper Bubacarr Barry but only managed to hit the post.
Lacina Traoré scored for the elephants 13 minutes into the first half with a low shot inside The Gambia’s penalty area.
The Gambia reacted with a cross from striker Momodou Ceesay - sent on side netting by team mate Demba Savage seven minutes later.
|Gambian midfielder Sulayman Marreh dribles Ivorian defender Alain 17 (Photo Credit: M.S.Joof/TNBES/June 2013)|
As Traoré earned a yellow card in the 19th minute for deliberately handling scorpion defender Momodou Futi Danso, Ceesay collects the ball halfway into the pitch and forces himself into the Ivorian box and send the ball wide.
With another chance wasted, the home side looks good on the ball and maintained a wonderful interchange of passes that poses little threat to the visitors.
While the scorpions of The Gambia failed to score four clear chances in front goal, the elephants of Ivory Coast went into the break with a 1-0 lead.
Shortly after the break, Momodou Ceesay failed to keep control of the ball from 6 yards – another chance wasted in the 40th minute.
Wilfred Bony’s near post shot in the 50th minute was blocked by Gambia’s goalkeeper Christopher Allen who had his legs on the ball. Five minutes later, Momodou Ceesay beautifully brought down Sanna Nyassi’s cross and found Demba Savage whose shot was as good as wide.
Wilfred Bony of Dutch club Vitesse Arnhem decided to punish the home side when he taps a near post cross from Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure in the 61st minute. It was 2-0 to the visitors to the dismay of over 20,000 Gambian fans.
Four minutes later, Ivory Coast Coach, Sabri Lamouchi, introduced Sio Giovani who replaces goalscorer Lacina Traoré. Coach Peter Bonu Johnson also substituted Captain Mustapha Jarju for New England Revolution midfielder, Abdoulie Mansally in the 64th minute.
|Ivory Coast right-back Aurier Serge Alain takes a throw (Photo Credit: M.S.Joof/TNBES/June 2013)|
Demba Savage’s 72 minute header into the Ivory Coast net was ruled out for a foul on goalkeeper Bubacarr Barry after a collision with the midfielder.
New comer Mansally came close with a 79th minute free-kick which went inches from the far left post.
Arguably, The Gambia’s best player on the pitch, striker Momodou Ceesay, was replaced by midfielder Ali Sowe in the 85th minute – as Mansally headed over the cross bar.
Last minute gasp
With two minutes remaining, Lamouchi withdrew Serey Die for defender Souleman Bamba.
Playing on a dry pitch all evening, Yaya Toure’s 90 minute free-kick from the edge of the penalty area gave the elephants an emphatic 3-0 win over the scorpions of The Gambia.
In March this year, Ivory Coast beat The Gambia with the same score line in Abidjan.
First win for Morocco
In a late group C kick-off, Morocco secured first win in the 2014 World Cup qualifiers in a 2-1 score line against the Taifa Stars of Tanzania on Saturday night at the Grand Stadium in Marrakech.
Ivory Coast currently top the group with 10 points, Tanzania remains second with 6 points, Morocco at third with 5 points, and The Gambia placed bottom with only 1 point.
Each team has two more games to play with the penultimate fixture scheduled for next weekend on June 16.
Morocco will host The Gambia in Marrakech while Tanzania takes on Ivory Coast in Dar es salam. The winners of the group qualify to the 2nd stage of the World Cup qualifiers.
The FIFA 2014 World Cup will be hosted by Brazil next summer.
Written by Modou S. Joof