After having once again produced a miracle against Mali, Côte d’Ivoire approaches its semi-final of the CAN with the feeling of being invulnerable. The challenge promises to be great for the Democratic Republic of Congo. Follow the match, live from 9 p.m., on linternaute.com.
There African Cup of Nations is a competition apart, imbued with a mysticism specific to the continent. A competition of all possibilities, even more so this year when all predictions tend to be thwarted. Last Saturday, his magic worked once again to save Ivory Coast and condemn Mali to the pain of sorrow and the bitterness of regrets. While the Eagles held the qualification in their clutches, they saw their opponents, although reduced to 10, join them in the score at the 90e minute before being trampled by a killer goal at the end of extra time in overtime (2-1 ap). An improbable scenario which capsized the country in wild jubilation.
Miraculously qualified for the knockout phase and victorious over Senegal in a match that started very badly, the Elephants seem to be carried by an almost supernatural force, possessing a totem of immunity which guarantees them to survive everything in this disputed CAN home. “When the people sang the national anthem when we were 10 against 11, it was incredible”remembers Max-Alain Gradel when talking about the quarter-final against Mali.
Trust and absences
As incredible as finding Côte d’Ivoire in the semi-final, 90 or 120 minutes from a final in front of their home crowd. “We have created a force with the confidence we have had in the last two matches. To win a CAN match, you have to be ready on all levels: physically and mentally”, continues Max-Alain Gradel. The 2015 African champion is one of his veterans on whom Emerse Faé relied to unite his group and his contribution will still be valuable against the DRC.
Especially since the Ivorian coach will have to do without four elements, all suspended: his captain Serge Aurier, his defensive pillar Odilon Kossounou, the providential quarterback scorer Oumar Diakité and his attacker Christian Kouamé. A big loss but one that doesn’t worry Faé. “We created a united group and even when I bring players back to the 85e minute, they are in the right state of mind”he praised at a press conference.
If the former Nantes player indicated that he had a plan, he especially focused on a point that his team lacks: the start of the match. Indeed, in its last three outings, the Ivorian selection conceded the opening score. “We analyzed our two starts to the match. We want to start the match well. It’s an important match for a place in the final. It would be a shame to put pressure on ourselves and miss out on the match (…) We have to play on rediscovered confidence,” adds Faé.
The Democratic Republic of Congo also does not lack confidence, especially after having managed to get rid of Guinea and having returned to the semi-finals for the first time since 2015. A date that the Leopards have not forgotten since they came up against the future…Ivorian champions. Nine years later, destiny once again places the Elephants on their path. A nod for Chancel Mbemba, the last survivor on the Congolese side of this match.
In the wake of the captain playing the rest of the season at Olympique de Marseille, there is a whole group who would like to offer their country a final that has been awaited on the continent for 50 years. “It would be a mistake to say that we had a good CAN and if we don’t make it to the final, we will be disappointed. The pressure is more on Ivory Coast but we have to put it on too because “It helps us move forward. We want to have a good match and with the players we have, we will have our chances. We don’t want to stop there.”assumes the French coach of the Leopards Sébastien Desabre.
A desire based on other sources than the simple sporting issue. If the Elephants want to make their supporters proud, the Leopards make it their duty to give hope and a moment of happiness to their compatriots. Indeed, the Democratic Republic of Congo is going through a serious political crisis with rebel groups challenging the power in place and being guilty of massacres in the east of the country. In support of the civilian population, Mbemba and others will wear a black armband. “VSThis is the image of the Congolese that we convey, that of pride, solidarity and players on the field who must be impeccable in terms of attitude“, testifies Sébastien Desabre. An extra bit of soul when it comes time to challenge the miraculous host country.
The second CAN semi-final, between Ivory Coast and the Democratic Republic of Congo, will take place from 9 p.m. (8 p.m. local time), at the Alassane-Ouattara Olympic stadium, in Abidjan.
The second semi-final of the CAN, between Ivory Coast and the Democratic Republic of Congo will be broadcast live and exclusively on beIN Sport 2, the first channel of the Qatari group being dedicated to the Coupe de France and the eighth of final between PSG and Brest.
The meeting between the Ivory Coast of Emerse Faé and the Democratic Republic of Congo of Frenchman Sébastien Desabre will be available in streaming on the MyCanal platform.
Betclic: Ivory Coast: 2.15 / Draw: 2.90 / Democratic Republic of Congo: 4.00
Parions Sport: Ivory Coast: 2.15 / Draw: 2.95 / Democratic Republic of Congo: 3.90
Winamax: Ivory Coast: 2.15 / Draw: 2.90 / Democratic Republic of Congo: 4.20
Ivory Coast: Yahia Fofana – Singo, Diomandé, Ndicka, Konan – Seko Fofana, Sangaré, Kessié – Pépé, Max-Alain Gradel, Haller.
Democratic Republic of Congo: Mpasi – Kalulu, Mbemba (cap.), Inonga Baka, Masuaku – Moutoussamy, Bongonda, Pickel – Elia, Wissa, Bakambu.