The hosts of the 2023 AFCON, Ivory Coast, have knocked out the reigning champions of the tournament, Senegal via a penalty shootout.
After recording an abysmal run in the group stage of the 2023 AFCON in which they recorded two defeats and one win, Ivory Coast who qualified for the round of 16 as one of the four best third-placed teams, were able to hold their own against Senegal.
Though Senegal and Ivory Coast are household names as far as African football is concerned, it was expected that the 2021 AFCON winners would have it easier over the hosts.
Recall that Senegal finished the group stage with a perfect 9 points after defeating Cameroon, Guinea, and Gambia. While Ivory Coast suffered a humiliating 4-0 defeat in their last group stage game against lowly-rated Equatorial Guinea.
But it was an entirely new Ivorian side that showed more zeal to win and redeemed themselves in front of their home fans at the Stade Charles Konan Banny de Yamoussoukro on Monday, January 29.
Senegal however opened the game with a heartbreaking game in the fourth minute of the encounter courtsey of Habib Diallo’s strike.
With such an early goal, most football enthusiasts expected it to be a whitewash of the hosts but it was not to be as the Ivorians scored the equaliser in the 86th minute via a penalty taken by Franck Kessié.
After that, both sides couldn’t score for the rest of the regulation time and the 30 minutes of extra time. Hence, the game had to be decided via penalties.
All the penalty takers from both sides converted their kicks except 27-year-old Nottingham Forest defender, Moussa Niakhaté who missed his kick as he gifted the victory to Ivory Coast 4-5 on penalties.
Ivory Coast will play the winner of the match between Mali and Burkina Faso in the quarter-finals at 6 p.m. on February 3, 2024.
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