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AFCON 2015

Gradel beauty takes Ivory Coast through


MALABO, Equatorial Guinea, January 28 – Max-Alain Gradel was the hero once again for the Ivory Coast on Wednesday as his thumping strike secured a 1-0 win against Cameroon and took the Elephants into the Africa Cup of Nations quarter-finals.

Gradel, whose late equaliser earned the Ivory Coast a 1-1 draw with Mali at the weekend, struck 35 minutes into the deciding Group D game in Malabo as Herve Renard’s men went through in first place to a last-eight tie against Algeria on Sunday.

For Cameroon, meanwhile, a poor performance saw them eliminated and piled more pressure on coach Volker Finke.

With all four sides in the section coming into the final round of matches with identical records, the spectre of a drawing of lots to decide who went through to the last eight hung in the steamy night air of Equatorial Guinea’s capital.

But in the end such a lottery will only concern Guinea and Mali, whose 1-1 draw in Mongomo ensured they will need a lucky dip to see who advances along with the Ivorians.

With so much at stake for both sides, it was no great surprise that the early stages of the match at the Estadio de Malabo were somewhat cagey.

The Ivorians, who brought Gradel into their starting line-up after his starring role from the bench against Mali, were first to threaten though when Wilfried Bony diverted a Serge Aurier cross towards goal and Cameroon ‘keeper Fabrice Ondoa turned it behind.

Ondoa then made another decisive intervention to keep out an Aurier header from Gradel’s free-kick, before Elephants coach Herve Renard was forced into a change, with Ousmane Viera replacing the injured Eric Bailly in defence.

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Nevertheless, they remained the more likely side in attack and they were rewarded with the opening goal 10 minutes before the break thanks to the livewire Gradel.

The Saint-Etienne winger collected a pass from Siaka Tiene on the left and advanced towards the edge of the box before unleashing a thunderous strike that flew past Ondoa into the net.

Finke had resisted the media clamour to hand a start up front to Clinton Njie, although he did introduce Franck Etoundi into his attack in place of Vincent Aboubakar.

However, it was Edgar Salli who passed up two glorious opportunities to equalise before the interval, first being denied by Sylvain Gbohouo and then contriving to blast over the bar after breaking into the penalty area.

In his defence, Salli had taken a knock shortly before and did not reappear for the second half, his place being taken by Aboubakar.

Yet as the clock ticked down, still it was the Ivorians who looked the more threatening side.

They nearly doubled their lead just after the hour when Nicolas Nkoulou failed to deal with a long ball downfield and was outmuscled by Bony, whose shot was blocked by Ondoa.

By this point Cameroon were playing with four forwards but their desperation to get a goal back did not translate into much in terms of chances, save for an Aboubakar free-kick that was boxed clear by Gbohouo, as they bowed out.

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  1. Peter

    February 3, 2012 at 9:18 am

    We had been waiting for this, give us the direction, Your strategy will work, Kudos Odinga, we are firmly beside you, The sky is the Limit.

    • Pratt

      February 9, 2012 at 6:58 am

      The quicksand he has been standing on, thats rapant lies, maliciousness, opportunism coated as reform agenda and character assassination, is quickly giving in. How is he going to give you direction when he is being swallowed by his very own artwork? Pal you need to prepare for your worst shock to avoiding committing suicide. You better be warned!

  2. Pratt

    February 3, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    This is one way of saying the guy is empty. Why would he hit the road just because his opponents are there, tout sort of? Small things like carpets, toilets, parable and football antics cant help this country at all. I believe if Raila is subjected to thorough scrutiny, he will fall like house of cards. His numerous folks in the media have really tried to fashion and protect him. Thats why his lies are the truth and the truth of others are the lies. He has repeatedly told us that he was jalied for fighting for us, fought for multi-pasrtyism, brought the new constitution and all that. But is that really true? Obviously not. He was jailed for financing a tribal coup attempt. Was in jail the entire period Kenyans were figthing for multiparty and was hospitalized with false illness during campaigns for new constitution. This was after intelligence services advised that he was a negative item in the “yes” team. If he had been left on the campaing trail, Rift Valley, Central and Eastern provinces would have voted against the document. Infact, large number of people in Eastern province hardly believed Raila was not behind it all. Thats why many of them chose to give it a “no.” But merchants of deceit were already at hand to quickly tell us that “Wiper is a watermelon and didnt even command support in his home area.” In the process, they claimed ownership of the document. As is natural with real opportunists wearing different stickers, they landed on the moon without even  flying! History will one day expose these conmen.

    • BRO

      February 3, 2012 at 1:40 pm

      THE CHANGE WE WANT HAS COME THE WAY WE NEEDED IT ,AND IF YOU  ARE NOT READY FOR IT THEN YOU BATTER GO OUT OF KENYA, BUT IF YOU ARE STILL HERE IT WILL CHANGE YOU .If you can say that the document could not be passed if left for RAO to campaign for it,so i wonder who read for you the document, The Kenya now has come in away that you will need to work yourself  incluiding reading the docement not to be cheated again. can you try to be a winner dont be alooser, dont throw your vote ,vote for the winner not a looser.    

      • Pratt

        February 4, 2012 at 6:14 am

        You are confused pal! I said your village idol had to be kept out of the “yes” campaigns because folks in RV, Central and Eastern provices were decidedly against anything associated with him. With 3 highly populated provinces out of it, no chance of passing it at all. But since you have been overwhelmed by the lies, you wont want to hear the truth. Thus, you lose your balance and in the process, say seemingly incoherent things, its amusing bro!

  3. chris

    February 3, 2012 at 12:44 pm

    I think all the people who have worked with Raila or are close to him have told you the kind of man he is.Starting with his own advisor Miguna who said his office is full of corruption,ineffective,incompetent,has no creative ideas to take the country to greater heights(kazi kwa Vijana) and that Raila is not the change he may want people to believe.Former US ambassador said this about Raila “Odinga is increasingly perceived as feckless, unable or unwilling to govern effectively”
    Kibaki always when asked to endorse Raila for presidency the one thing he keeps coming back to is ‘vitendo” actions must be simple words he is saying Raila has done nothing tangible and is not action oriented to be considered for presidency.I hope kenyans are listening and that they will make the right decision come elections. 

    • Pratt

      February 7, 2012 at 2:16 pm

      Raila was never a reformer but a fake backed by hordes of tribesmen in the media. Infact, his so called achievements are either lies or fictitious. Its incredible Kenyans have been fooled for this long. To start with, he claimed to have been jailed for “fighting for us.” Thats a big lie for he was involved in a tribal coup attempt. Remember Ochuka and his “O” friends? He claims to have fought for multiparty, another lie. From 1982 to to close to 1992 save a few months, the entire period for fight for pluralism, he was rotting in prison. So when did he “fight?” He treats Kanu of yester years as an outlawed organization, but thats just to hide facts and intent. Furthermore, he was once its secretary general, one of the most powerful positions in any party. He pretends to have brought the new constitution, but is that really true? I thought he had to be kept in reserve benches to save its passage?

      • Omukambi

        February 8, 2012 at 8:09 am

        Once upon a time i was like you pratt. I hated raila with a passion but now am with him all the way. Just tell me one kenyan politician who can be compared to raila and what he has done for kenya….

        • Pratt

          February 9, 2012 at 6:51 am

          Oh sure! No comparison when it comes to maliciousness, rapant lies, opportunism and character assassination. May be you joined him because of all this! What has he really done for Kenya that you are not telling us? May be his lies have arrested you pal? Raila has been the worst item for this country. If it were not for his sabotage tendencies, Kenya would have surely taken off by now. Also the new constitution would have been fully implemented by now if it were not for his watermelon antics. Remember whenever he doesnt get his “Os” on the list of appointees, he creates delaying tactics, pretending to be genuine and concerned for us? Is empty hypocrisy pal! However, we dont hate the fellow, we hate the wicked traits, he is our brother pal prone to wickedness!

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