Burkinabe hold off Côte d'Ivoire
CAF Africa Cup of Nations favourites Côte d'Ivoire were held to a goalless draw by a stubborn Burkina Faso in their opening Group B match at the Estadio do Cabinda this evening.
Vahid Halilhodzic's team dominated possession but could not find the cutting edge to break down a determined Burkinabe defence despite an impressive frontline of Didier Drogba, Bakari Kone and Gervinho. The players observed a minute's silence prior to kick-off in memory of the three people killed in Friday's gun attack on the Togo team bus in the Angolan enclave of Cabinda.
When the action got under way, Drogba had an early shout for a penalty after a sliding challenge from Paul Koulibaly, but the referee gave only a corner. Yaya Toure had the first real sight of goal in the fifth minute but could not get his shot away following Gervinho's cross from the right.
Kone lashed over the bar moments later as the Ivorians made all the early running. Gervinho was again the provider 10 minutes later but Kone could only head wide when unmarked on the left side of the penalty area.
Emmanuel Eboue looked to be caught in the area by Mamadou Tall after 20 minutes but again the referee was unmoved. Eboue then burst through down the right only to fire across goal and Siaka Tiene blasted over from a tight angle following Drogba's cross from the right.
Cheik Tiote came close to breaking the deadlock eight minutes before the break with a long-range shot which curled into the side-netting, and Drogba's neat first touch on the left set up Kone only for Daouda Diakite to tip over the bar five minutes later.
Kone was played through by a fine reverse ball from Yaya Toure 10 minutes after the interval but lashed wide and passed up an even better opportunity 13 minutes later when he finished off a swift counter-attack by skewing horribly wide from six yards following fine work on the left by Gervinho.
That proved the last action of the match for the Marseille striker, who was replaced by Kader Keita moments later. Salomon Kalou and Aruna Dindane were also introduced as Halilhodzic looked to instigate the breakthrough.
Drogba was cynically brought down by Mohamed Koffi on the edge of the box 17 minutes from time but the free-kick came to nothing. The Chelsea frontman did test Diakite in the 85th minute but the Burkinabe goalkeeper was equal to his snap-shot from a tight angle as the Ivorians' frustration continued.