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Ivory Coast coach Fae demands better ahead of DRC date

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Ivory Coast coach Emerse Fae. PHOTO/CAF
  • Ivory Coast have sneaked through both last games with late goals
  • Head coach Fae wants a better start
  • DRC are aiming for their first final in 50 years

Ivory Coast head coach Emerse Fae has asked his players to have a better start in their Africa Cup of Nations semi-final clash against DR Congo in Abidjan.

The hosts have been forced to fight for dear life in both the round of 16 and the quarter finals, winning by the skin of their teeth, and Fae says it is a lesson they have taken in their stride.

Against Senegal in the round of 16, they scored late to force the game to extra time and ultimately winning on penalties, and also did the same against Mali in the quarters where they equalized at the stroke of 90 minutes before winning 2-1 in extra time.

“In our previous games we’ve struggled at the start. This time we’ll look to capitalise on the confidence we’ve built to impose our gameplan from the off. It is a very big lesson we have learnt and we have spoken about it among ourselves and everyone understands what we need to do,” the tactician offered.

Whilst they have picked the lessons from those last two struggles, Fae says they have also picked the positives from it. He says the team is pushed on by the second lease of life they have had in the tournament, especially having just narrowly squeezed out of the group stages.

Ivory Coast refocused after group stage

Ivory Coast

Ivory Coast players during a training session. PHOTO/CAF

“We were almost out but we refocused as a group, restored confidence and understood we had to be united. I knew we had the quality, the key was recreating that team dynamic,” said the tactician.

Looking forward towards the game against Congo, he admiuts the team comes in under immense pressure.

He notes; “There was more pressure in our last two games than this semi-final, even though it’s a bigger match. We’ll manage it by remembering how far we’ve come and the effort taken just to get here.”

Meanwhile, DR Congo are playing their first Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) semi-final since 2015 when they finished third.

Prior to that, their only other place in the last eight since they won it in 1974, then as Zaire, when the tournament was only eight teams, was in 1998 in Burkina Faso when they lost 2-0 to Egypt.

And now, Les Leopards, who are seeking their second African crown will face the hosts Ivory Coast in Abidjan, looking to make their first final in 50 years.

Desabre knows the pressure expected

DR Congo

DR Congo players training in Abidjan. PHOTO/CAF

Head coach Sebastian Desabre knows the pressure this comes with, but says his charges are fully focused on playing their best game and getting a good result.

Expecting a hostile atmosphere, Desabre says his charges are ready.

“Playing in a big stadium with lots of fans is usual for us. The advantage can become a disadvantage sometimes. As a team we are ready and we need to be clever at how we manage the game and focus on playing our best game,” the French tactician, formerly with the Uganda Cranes said.

His sentiments are shared by midfielder Charles Pickel who says the team knows what awaits them at the Stade Olympique Alassane Ouattara. But he says, the team is mentally focused on having cool heads.

“It will be a game like any other. It’s a semi-final we are ready to compete in. We know we expect a big and hostile crowd but that will not affect us. We are experienced players and we are capable of handling such,” said the Cremonese player.

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