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Monday, February 2, 2015

Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire Enter AFCON 2015 Semis as Favorites

Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire made it to the last 4 of the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations after steering past some tricky ties in quarterfinals.

Both teams scored three goals on the night, the Black Stars in a 3-0 whitewash of Guinea while the Elephants dismissed Algeria, the top ranked team in Africa, 3-1.

It was a night when all the teams needed to step up. Cote d’Ivoire welcomed winger Gervinho to their starting lineup against Algeria, the Roma man having served his two-game suspension for a red card against Mali in the opening game. Herve Renard’s side took the lead midway into the first half, new Manchester City signing Wilfried Bony heading home a Max Gradel cross for his first goal of the tournament.

The West Africans went for the break holding a slim 1-0 lead. They started the second half sluggishly though and were made to pay just six minutes into it, El Arabi Soudani netting the equalizer for Algeria. However, Bony restored the Elephants’ lead in the 68th minute meeting his now Manchester City teammate, Yaya Toure’s free kick with a powerful header.

Christian Gourcuff’s men pushed for an equalizer but any hopes for that was extinguished by Gervinho who scored in stoppage time to put Ivory Coast to the final four.

Ghana were even more imposing in their clash against Guniea. Having reach the last 4 in the previous four tournaments, the Black Stars put themselves on course for the fifth just four minutes into the match, Everton forward Christian Atsu finding the back of the net after connecting with an Andre Ayew clever backheel.

Crystal Palace forward Kwesi Appiah made it 2-0 to Avram Grant’s side just a minute before the break before Atsu score the best of his two with a piledriver at the hour mark in a comfortable 3-0 beating of Guinea.

Given their quarterfinal performances, Ghana and Ivory Coast will be favorites to set up a mega showdown between them in the final. The Black Stars will play hosts Equatorial Guinea on Wednesday with The Elephants facing a potential banana skin in Democratic Republic of Congo on Thursday.

Equatorial Guinea upset Tunisia 2-1 at extra time to qualify for their first ever AFCON semifinal while DR Congo overwhelmed neighbours Congo 4-2.

Besides the hosts, all the semifinalists have tasted the glory of lifting the trophy. Ghana have had a bumper harvest, four titles, but their last one was over three decades ago in 1982. Congo’s only triumph was in the 1972 edition while Ivory Coast have won it more lately in 1992.

This year’s winner will be crowned this coming Sunday.

And That's thesteifmastertake!!