Ivory Coast players back coach's defensive style

By Nick CavellBBC Sport, Malabo
Ivory Coast defender Sol Bamba favours his coach's tactics in this year's tournament
Ivory Coast defender Sol Bamba has helped Ivory Coast to keep a clean sheet at the Cup of Nations

Ivory Coast's Sol Bamba and Max Gradel have rejected criticism over their style of play at the Africa Cup of Nations.

The Elephants reached the semi-finals after beating co-hosts Equatorial Guinea 3-0 in Malabo on Saturday.

The Ivorians are yet to concede a goal in the finals, but have been forced to defend their conservative approach.

"We know if we keep a clean sheet that with the players we've got up front we can score at any time," Bamba said.

"So as long as we keep doing that then we can go far in this competition," the Leicester City defender told BBC Sport.

Gradel, who plays for French side St Etienne, says that Ivorian teams in the past have lost out by trying to play attractive football.

"When we played the Nations Cup in 2010, 2006 and other years, we played great football and we didn't win anything," he said.

"But today the most important thing - as the coach tells us everyday - is winning and it doesn't matter how you win.

"Everything our coach [Francois Zahoui] is telling us to do, we're doing it.

"On the pitch and off the pitch he's the boss."

Zahoui has already publicly backed his side's cautious approach, saying "a good defence can go far in the Nations Cup".

Ivory Coast play Mali in the second semi-final on Wednesday in Libreville, Gabon, after Zambia meet Ghana in Bata, Equatorial Guinea earlier that day.