Cote d’Ivoire will spend Tuesday and Wednesday waiting to see whether they will be able to continue at their own tournament after a horror loss in their last Africa Cup of Nations group game, which will go down as the biggest shock in finals history.
Equatorial Guinea, a country of only 1.6 million people and with a motley team comprised mainly of players from the lower leagues in Spain, upset the Ivorians 4-0 on Monday in the heaviest defeat ever suffered by a host nation.
It was a humiliating loss that left the Ivorians, jeered off by their own supporters, third in Group A and now waiting to see whether they will qualify for the last 16.
The top two teams in each group advance to the knockout stage, along with the four best third-placed finishers.
With Groups A and B completed on Monday, the Ivorians are still in contention especially after neighbours Ghana conceded two goals in stoppage time against Mozambique and drew 2-2 to finish third in Group B.
While the Ivorians collected three points from their trio of group games, Ghana managed only two and are likely to be eliminated with Groups C and D concluding on Tuesday and Groups E and F on Wednesday.
Ghana’s shock demise was a glimmer of light on a dark day for the Ivorians, whose defeat set off rioting among angry supporters with vehicles and buses stoned along the route from the Alassane Ouattara Olympic Stadium.
The game was an endless series of missed chances for the Ivorians while everything their lowly-ranked opponents touched turned to gold.
“In life, there are sometimes matches that turn into nightmares, matches where everything seems linked,” said Ivory Coast coach Jean Louis Gasset.
“We call this the disaster scenario. We have three points, because we won a match,” he said of their 2-0 success in the tournament opener against Guinea Bissau on Jan. 13.
“And we hope to still qualify as one of the four best third-place finishers. We are waiting for the results of others.”
Gasset, a former France assistant coach, said he could not fathom what went wrong.
“This is a difficult question. What went wrong with the players? I don’t think is their state of mind. When I see players crying in the locker room, it hurts me. The players tried. I think we’ve tried everything,” he added.
“When you have a scenario like this, which borders on a nightmare, there is not much to say or do.”
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