Cote d’Ivoire opened their AFCON 2019 with a win over the Bafana Bafana of South Africa in a Group D encounter. Lone goal from Aston Villa striker Jonathan Kodjia gave the Elephants a deserved win over the Stuart Baxter men. Kodjia’s goal ended South Africa’s unbeaten record against the Ivorians.
Ibrahima Kamara stick with the same starting XI that defeated Zambia 4-1 in their last friendly before the competition. Cote d’Ivoire started on a bright note as they took the game to the South Africans as early as two minutes of play with Nicolas Pepe and Jonathan Kodjia causing problems for the defence. The Bafana Bafana returned the favour as they came close to taking the lead in the 26th minute as Hlatshwayo powers his header wide from Hlanti’s cross. The Cote d’Ivoire defence took the foot off the gas there and allowed Bafana to get inside their penalty area.
Pepe came close to scoring in the 31st minute as his stunning freekick hit the woodwork with Williams well-beaten, few seconds later Kodija got the best chance of the game after being set up one on one with the goalkeeper by Serge Aurier. His right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved by Williams who positioned himself well to make a great save.
South Africa survive that "cishe" moment from a set-piece b4 Ronwen heroically saved a one-on-one with Kodjia!!
— robertmarawa (@robertmarawa) June 24, 2019
The first 45 minutes ended with Kamara’s men being the better side between the two nations with Baxter’s men lucky not to have been two goals down before the interval. Cote d’Ivoire had to great chances to score, but they couldn’t take their chances. Bafana, on the other hand, haven’t really threatened the Ivorians. Lebo Mothiba looked flat while Percy Tau hasn’t been able to perform to the best of his ability.
The second 45 minutes started just like how the first ended with both teams trying to take conservative approach very early in the second half.
The long awaited goal came in the 64th minute after Kodjia paid for his miss in the first half. The Aston Villa striker pounced on a curling cross from Max-Alain Gradel to hit a right footed shot past Williams to give the Elephants the deserved lead against South Africa.
IVORY COAST LEAD⚽️
Jonathan Kodjia's clinical finish has given Ivory Coast the lead against Bafana Bafana.
— SuperSport ⚽️🏆 (@SuperSportTV) June 24, 2019
Three minutes later, AC Milan star Franck Kessie was close to making it 2-0 but his effort on goal was block by the South African defence. Premier League star, Wilfried Zaha came on for Fulham’s midfielder Jean Michael Seri in the 68th minute as Kamara was keen to get another goal in the game. The Ivorian’s defence didn’t really have a lot to do in the second half as they were able to contain the attacking threats from the Baxter’s side.
The Elephants took all three points against the Bafana Bafana as they look forward to their next game against Morocco.