Wednesday 13 December 2017

Drogba weighed down by tragedy

Ivory Coast 0
Burkina Faso 0

Didier Drogba gives Mamadou Tall of Burkina Faso the slip during the Africa Cup of Nations match in Cabinda yesterday
Didier Drogba gives Mamadou Tall of Burkina Faso the slip during the Africa Cup of Nations match in Cabinda yesterday

Julien Pretot

DIDIER DROGBA admitted he had struggled to concentrate as tournament favourites Ivory Coast were held to a goalless draw by lowly neighbours Burkina Faso in the African Nations Cup last night.

The Chelsea striker was far from his irrepressible best and explained that Friday's gun attack on the Togo bus -- which left three people dead and several others injured -- had been weighing on his mind.

"It was a difficult start. After what happened a few days ago, it was difficult to concentrate," said Drogba.

"We do not forget what happened (to Togo) but now the competition has started and we try to focus on the games."

With Togo pulling out, there are now only three teams in Group B, meaning that this disappointing result against the minnows of the pool is less damaging to Ivory Coast.

However, if they lose their only remaining game in the group to Ghana on Friday, and Burkina Faso avoid defeat against the same opponents next Tuesday, Drogba's team will be eliminated.

Ivory Coast, seen as Africa's best hope at the World Cup, enjoyed most of the possession, but Bakary Kone failed to convert three clear chances.

Coach Vahid Halilhodzic said luck had not been on his team's side and criticised Burkina's defensive approach.

"We had a lot of chances against an opponent who had decided to refuse to play," said the Bosnian, adding that he had feared his team would concede a last-gasp goal.

"We could have lost. On a counter-attack, you can concede a goal. They can shoot once and score. We lacked a bit of luck. I am disappointed but it's not over yet."

Burkina Faso coach Paulo Duarte was surprisingly downbeat after his side's unexpected point.

"We were not good in the first half, we did not create chances," he said. "It was better after the break."

There was a minute's silence before kick-off in memory of the Togo assistant coach and their press officer, who were killed, along with a driver, in the attack by a separatist group.

Togo left Cabinda on Sunday, pulling out of the tournament.

Security was reinforced around the Chiazi National stadium, with police officers searching cars in front of the entrance and a police helicopter with armed officers on board circling above the area before kick-off.

Ivory Coast got off to a good start and were denied a third-minute penalty when Drogba was brought down. A Kone 20-metre drive then went just over the bar as Burkina Faso struggled to get into the game.

Yaya Toure's header was cleared off the line by a defender shortly before the half-hour, and then Kone was again denied by Burkina keeper Daouda Diakite on the stroke of half-time.

Marseille striker Kone sent a fine effort from just outside the box whistling just past the post 10 minutes into the second half.

Burkina Faso improved after the break, while the pitch and Ivory Coast deteriorated. Moumouni Dagano forced goalkeeper Boubacar Barry to make a spectacular dive with a powerful 40-metre free kick and Kone then missed and open goal at the other end after being perfectly set up by Gervinho in the 69th minute. He was immediately replaced by Abdul Kader Keita.

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