In the first match at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium, Rustenburg. Côte d’Ivoire 2 v 1 Togo. Don’t believe the hype about Gervinho’s late winner. It was the much maligned Boubacar Barry who won this for Les Éléphants saving two certain goals in the opening and closing seconds of this intriguing match. In between Yaya Touré did his thing and Didier Drogba didn’t do his thing. The rest of the herd seem somewhat long in the tusk, with the exception of Max Gradel. Didier Six brought the best out of Team Togo. Goalscorer Jonathan Ayité and Serge Gakpé were prominent for much for match, but when each was substituted in the second half, it was a show of intent from the Les Eperviers. This was turning into a game the Sparrow Hawks could win. Yaya Touré’s second half shot rebounding off the post may make the highlight reels and suggest he was unlucky not to score more, but that would unfair on the Togolese and especially defender Daré Nibombé who kept an herd of Elephants in his pocket for the most of the match. Sparrow Hawk keeper Kossi Agassa had been a safe pair of hands for 88 minutes. He deserved better than to misjudge a lopping cross. I expect Didier Six give him extra crosses for breakfast.
In the second game at Rustenburg (Tunisia 1 v 0 Algeria), Djamel Mesbah and Adlène Guedioura both impressed for Algeria. Mesbah was prolific down the left flank. Guedioura was the General in the midfield. It only seemed a matter of time before Les Fennecs would score, but the Crossbar Gods favored Tunisia. Algeria pressed in the second half, but it was Tunisia’s Youssef Msakni who screamed in the winner for the Carthage Eagles in the 90th minute. Incidentally, Msakni likes to be paid in Qatari rials. On this performance, Tunisia will not trouble Les Éléphants next. Algeria versus Togo promises to be a tight encounter.