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Defending champions Ivory Coast could be next casualty

Published Jan 24, 2017
Jan 24, 2017 IST
Ivory Coast
Ivory Coast's players celebrate with the trophy after winning the African Nations Cup final soccer match against Ghana in Bata, February 8, 2015. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh/File Photo

By Mark Gleeson

LIBREVILLE (Reuters) - African Nations Cup holders Ivory Coast could be the next major casualty at this year's tournament unless they can get the better of Morocco and their former coach Herve Renard in their last Group C match at Oyem on Tuesday.

The Ivorians must beat Morocco to secure progress to the last eight. Failure to do so will see them follow hosts Gabon and pre-tournament favourites Algeria out the door.

Ivory Coast were in a similar position two years ago when they also drew their opening two games but then went on a winning run that took them to the title.

“Don’t worry we’ll do it again,” promised fullback Serge Aurier after their last draw against the Democratic Republic of Congo on Friday.

DR Congo are top on four points and are expected to see off Togo, on one point, in Port Gentil to go through as group winners. Morocco, in second spot, have three points, one more than the Ivorians. Since departing the Ivory Coast, who he led to the 2015 Nations Cup title, Morocco coach Renard has already had one reunion with his former charges in a World Cup qualifier in Marrakech in November which ended in a 0-0 draw.

On Monday, Senegal, who had already secured top place, rested key players as they drew 2-2 with Algeria in Franceville, while Tunisia, who needed just one point to take second spot, comfortably beat Zimbabwe 4-2 in Libreville.

(Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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