The Netherlands boosted their Olympic hopes by taking the ING Cup on Saturday after a 1-1 draw with Côte d'Ivoire, but the African footballers showed they could be a team to fear in Beijing. The Dutch -- who are one of the favourites in the Olympic tournament -- were tipped to take home the prize in Hong Kong after beating Cameroon 2-0 on Wednesday, but Côte d'Ivoire impressed with some electrifying attacks.
The Netherlands went up 1-0 in the 14th minute thanks to a brilliant free-kick by Ajax midfielder Urby Emanuelson, who was named Most Valuable Player of the tournament. But Ivorian captain Gervinho scored the equaliser after stabbing home from close range following a 47th-minute corner. He set up a glorious late chance for Abraham Guie Guie, who shot wide from about eight yards out.
"We scored a magnificent goal through Urby, but we were a little bit lucky," admitted Dutch coach Foppe De Haan. "We had a lot of problems with the Ivory Coast and were losing the ball too much. We could have lost this game."
Côte d'Ivoire coach Gerard Gili believes his team will progress through the group stage at the Olympics after seeing his charges improve following last Sunday's 2-1 loss to South Korea and Wednesday's scoreless draw with the USA.
"If we had converted our chances, we could have won tonight," said the Frenchman. "We're very happy with this week as we've come through two matches played at a high level."
Cameroon edge USA
In the earlier match, Cameroon -- hoping to regain the Olympic title they won in Sydney eight years ago -- bested the USA 1-0 thanks to Aurelien Chedjou, who coolly converted a penalty in the first half.
"I'm happy as we had many chances today," said Cameroon coach Martin Ndtoungou Mpile. "I'm very confident in my players now as we now focus on the Olympics."
US coach Peter Nowak was also upbeat, telling reporters: "I think anyone who plays us in the Olympics will have problems."