Africa Cup of nations 2013: Lessons as Gervinho stars for Ivory Coast
Africa Cup of Nations 2013: What lessons did we learn as Arsenal's Gervinho stars for Ivory Coast against Algeria in Group D?
Gervinho could be worth £11million after all
Arsenal fans watching Ivory Coast so far in this tournament could be forgiven for having a quick check on Google to see if there is more than one Gervinho in their squad. But there isn’t, and the man with two goals in the first two games is the very same Gervinho who has become a laughing stock up front at Arsenal. It is not just his goal scoring either – although his strike against Tunisia was very well taken – his all-round play has marked him as one of the early contenders for Player of the Tournament. His link-up play all-game was outstanding and with better finishing from Lacina Traore and Didier Drogba, he could have bagged a couple of assists too. He showed great desire – at one point running 50 yards across the pitch to recover a ball that he had given away on the touchline. On the day his club side needed a late winner to beat Brighton & Hove Albion in the FA Cup, they must be hoping this Gervinho is the one who returns to London next month.
Ivory Coast are the team to beat
Coach Sabri Lamouchi was very critical of his Ivory Coast side after an unconvincing win against Togo in the opening round of fixtures, but the Elephants bounced back superbly against Tunisia. They could easily have scored several more than the three which they did net as the pre-tournament favourites fully lived up to expectations. Newcastle United’s Chiek Tiote and Manchester City’s Yaya Toure led the charge from midfield, with the sort of simple but effective passing Premier League fans see from them all the time. Up front Gervinho and Traore also combined well, and Tunisia very rarely troubled them at the other end, even with experienced centre-back Kolo Toure being rested. This tournament is widely seen as being the Ivory Coast golden generation’s last chance to lift the trophy together, and on the evidence of Saturday, they need not worry.
Algeria need to score when they are on top
The Desert Foxes paid the ultimate price for their profligacy in front of goal against Togo, as they succumbed to a 2-0 defeat which sends them out of the tournament. Much like in their first game against North African rivals Tunisia, Algeria dominated the match in Rustenburg, yet through a combination of fine goalkeeping from Kossi Agassa and missed chances, they failed to score. Togo only had an average 36 per cent of the possession and only two corners compared to the Desert Foxes’ 18, and in two rare ventures in to Algeria’s final third, Tottenham striker Emmanuel Adebayor and substitute Dove Wome put them to the sword. Coach Vahid Halilhodzic will be reassured his players are creating the chances, but he will be looking to go out on a high in their final match against Ivory Coast.