The host Ivory Coast started proceedings at the Africa Cup of Nations finals with a 2-0 win against Guinea Bissau in Abidjan on Saturday, but jubilant fans crowded the streets and partying lasted late.
Fans lined the road from the Alhassane Ouattara Olympic Stadium in the city’s north to crowd their team’s bus as coach Jean Louis Gasset proclaimed goal achieved and expressed relief at the victory.
Seko Fofana and Jean Philippe Krasso scored in each half to seal victory, but it was far from the emphatic statement of purpose that the hosts were hoping for.
“The most important thing was to win this match.” “It’s not easy to play the first match of a tournament in a packed stadium,” Ivorian coach Jean-Louis Gasset stated afterwards.
View of the performers at the opening ceremony before to the match. Photographer: Reuters
“It was difficult psychologically, but we did our best.” We made a strong start to the game, scoring early on, but our entire effort was ordinary.”
Fofana put them up after four minutes, and Krasso added an acrobatic second goal early in the second half.
“We were a little scattered when we didn’t have the ball.” We’ll get to work on it. But, in all, we had seven opportunities and struck the crossbar twice.”
Even though the match was played late in the evening, the players were fatigued following the exertions in heavy humidity.
“There is still work to be done; the competition has just begun.” We are relieved today… “We’re relieved to have won this game because we were really under pressure,” Gasset continued.
It is a significant step up for the hosts, who face strong Nigeria in their second Group A encounter on Thursday in Abidjan.
“We are aware of Nigerians’ strengths. They have a formidable attacking armada. “Their leading striker is the best player in Africa,” Gasset remarked of Victor Osimhen, who was just named African Footballer of the Year.
“So we know that we will have to raise our game but, knowing my players, I think we will respond,” he said.