Wed, Jan 13, 2010 - Page 20 News List

Shocks continue as Burkinabes hold Ivorians

AFP , CABINDA, ANGOLA, AND JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA

Ivory Coast’s Abdul Kader Keita, left, challenges Burkina Faso’s Jonathan Pitroipa during their African Nations Cup Group B match in Cabinda, Angola, on Monday. The match ended in a 0-0 draw.

PHOTO: REUTERS

A shock-filled start to the Africa Cup of Nations continued on Monday as title favorites Ivory Coast were held 0-0 by Burkina Faso in the opening Group B match.

Hosts Angola sensationally surrendered a four-goal lead when drawing with Mali in the tournament opener on Sunday and 24 hours later Malawi rocked 2010 World Cup qualifiers Algeria 3-0 in another Group A clash.

The Ivorian team, with Europe-based stars like Kolo Toure, younger brother Yaya and Didier Drogba, dominated possession throughout but created few clear-cut chances and looked far from potential champions.

Burkina Faso set out a defensive stall and contained their opponents with relative comfort to keep alive hopes of finishing among the top two in a mini-league completed by Ghana and qualifying for the quarter-finals.

Players stood silently before the kick-off to honor two Togolese fatalities of an ambush last Friday while police, soldiers and special forces cast a ring of steel around a complex housing the teams.

Togo, whose delegation flew home on Sunday, were officially disqualified from the tournament when they failed to appear for a 6:30pm fixture against Ghana, scheduled to be the second half of a Cabinda double-header.

Ivory Coast dominated the first half before a sparse crowd at the new 20,000-seat Chiazi Stadium, with virtually the entire Burkina Faso team retreating behind the ball at the slightest hint of danger.

The respect the Stallions accorded the Elephants was understandable after losing 3-2 at home and 5-0 away when the neighbors clashed in the qualifiers.

The Premiership duo Drogba of Chelsea and Emmanuel Eboue of Arsenal had penalty appeals rejected by the Tunisian referee in the stamina-sapping conditions.

There were also a couple of scares for Burkinabe goalkeeper Daouda Diakate, who had the humiliating experience of retrieving the ball from his net five times in Abidjan last September.

The Cairo-based custodian spilled a hard, long-range attempt from midfielder Didier Zokora and raced off his line to clutch the ball as Bakari Kone dashed forward. Cheik Tiote adopted a more subtle approach to try and break the deadlock and it almost paid off as his gentle, curled shot ended just millimeters off target.

Ivory Coast resembled five-time World Cup winners Brazil at times as they retained possession while effortlessly stroking the ball about, but the killer instinct was missing and half-time arrived without a goal.

Burkina Faso displayed more adventure in the second half, but were lucky to survive midway through when a superb run by Kouassi “Gervinho” Yao created a golden chance for Kone who shot timidly wide.

Charles Kabore squandered a late half chance in a rare Burkinabe attack before a goalmouth collision between two Ivorians trying to snatch a stoppage-time winner summed up a dismal evening for the 1992 champions.

In related news, South Africa’s World Cup organizing chief said Angola knew for years that staging Africa’s premier soccer tournament in Cabinda posed a security risk.

“How long is it known that there is a separatist group in Angola for many, many years? What are the possibilities of a terror attack? It was known,” Danny Jordaan told reporters.

“It is a responsibility of the host nation to deal with those issues,” said Jordaan, who led a technical team to Angola in 2006 to assess its readiness for the tournament on behalf of the Confederation of African Football.

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