Ivorians warm up with draw against South Africa

Reuters, Saturday 12 Nov 2011

Africa’s top ranked team the Ivory Coast, began preparations for the upcoming African Nations Cup finals with a 1-1 away draw against South Africa in a friendly on Saturday

Katlego Mphela
South Africa's Katlego Mphela scored the equalizer

The Ivorians will be one of the favourites for the African title at the tournament in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon in January and February and got in some solid match practice in a bruising match where goalkeeper Boubacar Barry made several key saves while Yaya Toure dominated the midfield.

There was a measure of justice after 36 minutes when South African full back Siboniso Gaxa turned the ball into his own with a botched clearance as the presence of Toure panicked the Bafana Bafana defence.

South Africa, playing their first game since miscalculating the Nations Cup rules and missing out on qualification, equalised eight minutes into the second half with a thunderbolt free kick from long range by striker Katlego Mphela.

The Ivory Coast, without injured captain Didier Drogba, next head to Paris for a friendly with Senegal on Tuesday.

“It was a game of great intensity that gave us a good idea of what we still need to do ahead of the Nations Cup,” Ivorian coach Francois Zahoui told reporters.

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