Holders Ivory Coast crash out

Ivory Coast forward Wilfried Zaha (No. 9) having his shot saved by Morocco goalkeeper Monir El Kajoui. Zaha could not breach the opposition backline as defending champions Ivory Coast were dumped out of the Africa Nations Cup, following a 1-0 loss to
Ivory Coast forward Wilfried Zaha (No. 9) having his shot saved by Morocco goalkeeper Monir El Kajoui. Zaha could not breach the opposition backline as defending champions Ivory Coast were dumped out of the Africa Nations Cup, following a 1-0 loss to Morocco and join other big-name casualties in hosts Gabon and Algeria, who have also failed to qualify for the knockout stages.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

PORT GENTIL (GABON) • The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Morocco both qualified on Tuesday for the quarter-finals of the Africa Nations Cup, leaving high-profile casualties in their wake.

The Congolese finished top of the Group C standings after beating Togo 3-1 while Morocco eliminated holders Ivory Coast with a 1-0 victory.

The Elephants exit adds to the earlier shock elimination of hosts Gabon and pre-tournament favourites Algeria while Togo finished last in Group C.

Ivory Coast departed having amassed only two points, with veteran forward Salomon Kalou announcing his retirement from international football afterwards and coach Michel Dussuyer suggesting his future is far from secure.

"For now, I am extremely disappointed because we have not met our objectives.

"Our ambition was to get past this first round and go on and keep our title," he said.

Rachid Alioui scored a spectacular winner from 35-metres to secure progress for Morocco, whose coach Herve Renard took the Ivorians to their title two years ago.

The striker, who plays for Nimes in the French second division, picked up the ball, spotted the Ivorian goalkeeper off his line and masterfully curled his shot into the top corner.

Junior Kabananga scored his third goal of the tournament to give DRC the half-time lead.

They added two more through Ndombe Mubele and Paul-Jose M'Poku while Kodjo Laba pulled one back for Togo.

Kabananga has now scored in all three Group C games, his latest goal coming as he ran onto a superb defence-splitting pass from Newcastle United's Chancel Mbemba and slotted home, just before the half hour.

Togo's failure to qualify marked only the second time in eight tournaments that manager Claude Le Roy, who has been to more Africa Nations Cups than any other coach, had failed to place a team in the last-eight.

It could also have been the last international game for Emmanuel Adebayor, their talismanic captain, who was denied a consolation goal in stoppage time when Merveille Bope cleared off the line.

"I am going now to think about whether I continue but I feel like I'm the captain of the boat and I'm not sure whether I should climb out yet," Adebayor said.

After the final whistle, the Congolese team formed a guard of honour to applaud him off the field.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 26, 2017, with the headline 'Holders Ivory Coast crash out'. Print Edition | Subscribe