Namibia 1-4 Ivory Coast: 3 Reasons why the The Elephants dominated the match | African Cup of Nations 2019

Ivory Coast bounced back from their crushing defeat against Morocco in thumping fashion as they ran riot against Namibia
Ivory Coast bounced back from their crushing defeat against Morocco in thumping fashion as they ran riot against Namibia

Ivory Coast bounced back from their crushing defeat against Morocco in thumping fashion as they ran riot against Namibia in their last group stage fixture and secured a 4-1 victory to seal their place in the last 16 of the Africa Cup of Nations.

Wilfred Zaha started, while the injured Serge Aurier was out of the fixture and Nicolas Pepe was on the bench for The Elephants.

The two-time champions put on dismal performances in their first two fixtures of the tournament, managing an unconvincing win in their opener, while they were shocked by a much superior Morocco last week.

But in this fixture, Ibrahim Kamara's men looked more determined than ever with their qualification on the line. The Elephants worked on their strengths, that lies in their speedy wingers and attackers who've been exposed to European football, to get the results and get in gear for the knockout rounds in time.

As Ivory Coast finished second behind Morocco in their group, we round up the three reasons which led the team to this much needed victory in the Group D's final match.


#3 A strong starting XI fielded by Ivory Coast

Zaha scored as Ivory Coast reach knockout stages with win over Namibia
Zaha scored as Ivory Coast reach knockout stages with win over Namibia

Kamara was criticized by fans and pundits alike for his team selections in the first two games of the tournament. Leaving out their star player Wilfred Zaha on the bench in both the games clearly denied an attacking edge to them.

But Kamara learned from his mistakes and used his trump card in the starting XI against Namibia.

Zaha made a positive impact in his first start of the tournament and managed to get on the scoresheet in the second half.

Veteran Max Gradel also justified his inclusion in the squad ahead of youngsters like Cornet and Pepe, when he opened the scoring for the Ivorians in the first half.

Despite an injury to their captain Aurier, they were strong defensively as well and his replacement, Mamadou Bagayoko, turned out to be the right choice from the coach to start in this game.

#2 Serey Die and Franck Kessie were exceptional in the midfield

Kessie provided three assists in the game.
Kessie provided three assists in the game.

Serey Die was captaining his side in absence of Serge Aurier and led by example on the pitch putting in a fighting performance in the midfield. He was instrumental in breaking up the Namibian play and also managed to get his first international goal since 2017 with his second-half strike.

His midfield partner Kessie, too, was highly involved in the victory by the Ivorians as he bagged a hat-trick of assists in the match, all the while keeping a check on the runs of attackers from the opposition half.

The two box-to-box midfielders looked composed when in possession and were actively involved in the counter-attacking strategy implemented by the gaffer.

The duo hitting fine form just before the crucial knockout games bodes well for the 2015 champions.

#3 The Ivorian attackers were clinical in the attacking third

Zaha led the attacking front efficiently
Zaha led the attacking front efficiently

The result and performances of players was a proof of the attacking firepower that Kamara has at his disposal.

Despite resting a dangerous player like Nicolas Pepe, the others gave his side the attacking edge they were lacking in the opening fixtures.

Obviously, Zaha, who is arguably their best player, got his first goal of the tournament in the match and was efficient going forward from the left flank and gelled well with Gradel and Bony.

All four of their goals were top notch right from Gradel's exquisite finish to Die long-range stunner and Zaha's solo run.

Not only were they clinical in the box, but the attackers put in the efforts to meet the deliveries from their midfielders and defenders.

Most importantly they weren't afraid of taking chances in front of the goal and that is what finally helped them break through the Brave Warriors' defence.

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Edited by Alan John
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