Brave Togolese players demonstrated yesterday in Rustenburg that big names are worthless if they are unable to showcase why they are different from ‘ordinary’ players. The Sparrow Hawks (Les Eperviers), well-organised and fearless, gave the 1992 African champions – led by Didier Drogba – a run for their money by holding them tight until the last minute before giving in to pressure and losing by 2-1, thanks to a ‘miraculous’ goal scored by Arsenal striker Gervinho.
It was a fait accompli that everyone was expecting the Ivorians to walk all over their West African brothers, but what happened in the field of Royal Bafokeng Stadium was beyond human understanding.
As usual, Emmanuel Adebayor was the main culprit of Togo defeat after missing golden opportunities to score goals that could have changed the course of the game. African Footballer of the Year Yaya Toure opened the score for Ivory Coast in the 8th minute, and Jonathan Ayite equalised for Togo deep on the stroke of half-time. Misfiring Arsenal striker Gervinho scored the winner in the 88th minute to win the game for his complacent team.
Both Ivory Coast and Tunisia have three points each after the latter beat unlucky Algeria who were looking like winning this North Africa derby.
Today, it is a do-or-die game for host South Africa who get back into action to meet Angola at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban, while Cape Verde will taste Morocco’s strength.
Ivory Coast: Barry, Tiene, Toure, Bamba, Eboue, Gervinho, Konan (Tiote 63), Zokora, Gradel (Kalou 60), Toure, Drogba (Bony 74).
Togo: Agassa, Mamah, Nibombe (Salifou 90), Bossou, Djene, Amewou, Akakpo, Romao, Adebayor, Jonathan Ayite (Segbefia 78), Gakpe (Floyd Ayite 61).
Photo by Reuters. Misfring Arsenal striker Gervinho celebrating his goal.