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Soccer-Ivory Coast must win next game to stay in Nations Cup

* Ivory Coast must beat Morocco to reach last eight

* Holders recover to draw 2-2 with DR Congo

* Morocco beat Togo 3-1

 

By Mark Gleeson

LIBREVILLE, Jan 20 (Reuters) - Holders Ivory Coast will have to win their last group game at the African Nations Cup if they are to continue their title defence after being held again on Friday.

The Ivorians twice came from behind to draw 2-2 with the Democratic Republic of Congo and then watched Morocco comfortably beat Togo 3-1 in the second Group C match.

The Ivorians are third and face the Moroccans next Tuesday as they bid to reach next weekend's quarter-finals. Morocco are second with three points while Togo are bottom with one.

 

"I want to reassure everyone, do not worry. In 2015 we started like that and we finished champions," said Ivorian fullback Serge Aurier, referring to an equally slow start two years ago when they went on to lift the continental title.

"We're calm about the situation," he added. "We try to improve from game to game."

Ivorian captain Geoffroy Serey Die snatched a second-half equaliser with a deflected shot to keep their chances alive.

Neeskens Kebano had given the Congolese, who are group leaders with four points, a 10th minute lead but Wilfried Bony equalised 16 minutes later.

The Congolese restored their advantage through Junior Kabananga after 28 minutes to lead at halftime only to let a second successive win at the finals slip.

 

NO PUSHOVERS

Morocco will be no pushovers for the Ivory Coast as they demonstrated in fighting back after conceding a goal after five minutes to Mathieu Dossevi.

Aziz Bouhaddouz, Romain Saiss and a long range shot in the second half from Youssef En-Nesyri gave Morocco a two-goal winning margin, the largest at the tightly-contested tournament.

On Saturday, the action turns to Group D in Port Gentil with the last of the double header encounters when Ghana take on Mali before Egypt play Uganda.

Egypt are back at the finals in search of a record-extending eighth triumph but have been urged to adopt a more attacking approach after drawing their opening game with Mali on Tuesday.

 

"I understand that Egyptian fans would like to see us winning by a big margin every match, but my main target is to control every game," coach Hector Cuper told Friday's pre-match news conference.

 

 

 

"We are a team that has an identity. Our defence is good and we are working to improve our attack." (Editing by Ken Ferris)

 

Reuters

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