iexclusivenews – Ivory Coast’s AFCON journey has been a rollercoaster, but the latest twist is a doozy!
Just a week ago, the Elephants faced a humiliating early exit, their own fans reeling from a record-breaking 4-0 thrashing.
Now, they’re celebrating a 5-4 penalty shootout win over defending champions Senegal, booking a sensational quarter-final clash!
From Humiliation to Heroics:
Group Stage Nightmare: The Elephants stumbled through the group stage, scraping through as the worst-performing of the four third-place teams.
A 4-0 hammering by Equatorial Guinea, their heaviest home loss ever, left fans distraught.
Coaching Chaos: Veteran coach Jean-Louis Gasset was promptly sacked, with a failed attempt to lure back Herve Renard.
Enter Emerse Fae, a former player tasked with reviving a shell-shocked squad.
Early Senegal Strike: Senegal looked to put the drama to bed early, Habib Diallo converting Sadio Mane’s cross in the 4th minute.
Mane escaped a red card for a dangerous tackle, while Senegal felt hard done by a denied penalty shout in the second half.
Kessie’s Redemption: Just as hope dwindled, VAR intervened. Nicolas Pepe was fouled by Edouard Mendy, offering a lifeline.
Franck Kessie, surprisingly benched at kickoff, stepped up and coolly converted the penalty, sending the game to extra time.
Nerves of Steel: Neither side could break the deadlock in extra time, setting the stage for a nail-biting penalty shootout.
Senegal’s Moussa Niakhate faltered, his effort smashing against the post.
Kessie the Hero: Up stepped Kessie again, this time slotting home the winning penalty.
The Elephants erupted in pure joy, their improbable comeback complete!
Ivory Coast now faces Mali or Burkina Faso in the quarter-finals, their AFCON fairytale far from over.
Senegal’s exit marks a historic first: no reigning champion has progressed past the first knockout round since Egypt in 2010.
This AFCON saga has been one for the ages, with redemption, resilience, and a touch of luck propelling the Elephants forward.
Buckle up, football fans, because Ivory Coast’s wild ride is just getting started!