Salomon Kalou has said that an impregnable defence coupled with forwards who can strike at will have been the cornerstones of Côte d’Ivoire's march to Sunday's CAF Africa Cup of Nations final.
Les Elephants notched up their fifth successive win with Wednesday's 1-0 semi-final defeat of Mali to enhance their record to nine goals scored, none conceded. With Zambia waiting in the climax to a competition that has had more than its fair share of shocks, Chelsea star Kalou said: "Our aim has been to not let in any goals. And with the strikers we've got, at any moment we can make the difference."
That was plain for all to see on Wednesday when Arsenal star Gervinho raced from the halfway line to score a superb solo goal to down valiant Mali.
"Our goals can come from anywhere," added Kalou. "From Yaya (Toure), Gervais (Gervinho), Didier (Drogba), myself... We can score at any moment and that's an advantage that we have on lots of other teams at this Nations Cup."
Looking ahead to Sunday's clash with the Copper Bullets, Kalou commented: "It's going to be a beautiful final. We'll take a rest ahead of Sunday. We are now one match away from our objective. We have to digest this semi-final, Sunday will be another (different) type of match."
With Pele among the crowd at the three-quarters full 40,000-seater L'Amitie stadium, Drogba and Yaya Toure both hit the bar before Gervinho's decisive intervention on the stroke of half time. He deprived Mali back Ousmane Berthe of the ball on the halfway line to scamper hare-like down the left wing, leaving Malian pursuers in his wake to shoot right-footed past Soumaila Diakite and into the far corner.
"Gervais scored a lovely goal," added second-half substitute Didier Ya Konan.
Côte d’Ivoire coach Francois Zahoui reflected: "The two shots that hit the bar helped give us confidence and then thankfully we scored before the break. Overall my players handled the game with calm and patience.
"Mali weren't in this semi-final by chance, and I was surprised by the way in which they went about imposing their game. But happily our defence has been very mature and solid since the beginning of the competition. After our past failures we knew that as long as we don't concede any goals we can make the difference up front. Our ambitions remain in place."
Zahoui then cast an eye on what awaits his men on Sunday. "Zambia are a young, very buoyant side who play good football. They attack and cause problems for any team they come across."