Zahoui defends cautious Ivory Coast style

Ivorians Salomon Kalou, Francois Zahoui and Kolo Toure
Coach Zahoui (centre) has already guided Ivory Coast into the quarter-finals

Coach Francois Zahoui has defended Ivory Coast's conservative approach at this year's Africa Cup of Nations by referring to previous failures.

The tournament favourites have rarely come out of their shells at the finals, where they have reached the last eight.

The Elephants beat Burkina Faso 2-0 on Thursday, to follow a narrow opening day 1-0 defeat of Sudan.

"We know that a team with a good defence can go far in the Nations Cup," said Ivorian Zahoui.

"It was good to complete our second game without conceding a goal."

The Ivorian is happy to remind people that lifting the country's first Nations Cup title since 1992 is the key objective in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon, rather than winning over the purists.

Two years ago, the Elephants paid the price for their offensive style when losing their quarter-final against Algeria despite leading the North Africans in the 90th minute.

"In the last tournament against Algeria, we improvised and paid the price," he explained. "We have learned from that experience - our objective is to win the cup."

Ivory Coast saw off the Stallions in Malabo thanks to a first-half strike from Salomon Kalou before a Bakary Kone own goal wrapped up the win late on.

Chelsea forward Kalou became a major injury concern though, having had to come off midway through the second half after pulling up with a thigh problem.

"This is upsetting," Zahoui admitted. "He's been a pivotal player for us since we began our warm-up matches.

"We're worried that he's suffered a strain or a tear because he pulled up so suddenly."

But tests on Friday have revealed nothing untoward.

"It was more a scare than any damage. Kalou felt pain behind the thigh but it's not a hamstring or tear," Ivory Coast press officer, the team's press officer, told AFP news agency.

Aside from opening the scoring against the Burkinabe, Kalou was a key man in the defeat of Sudan as his superb cross was converted by Didier Droga for the match-winning goal.

The Ivorians finish their Group B campaign on Monday when they take on Angola in Malabo, the capital of Equatorial Guinea.

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