Ivory coast came out on top of the titanic clash of Africa’s heavyweights after beating Cameroon 2-1 at the Stade Olympic Allesane Outtara in Abidjan.
It was a tough group D encounter whose result saw Ivory coach climb on top of the log with four points. Mozambique (one point) and Malawi (zero) will meet in Johannesburg on Tuesday.
Ivory Coast started the stronger of the two teams and created pressure through the likes of Maxwel Cornet, Jeremie Boga and Jean Kouassi. Their attacking play was rewarded in the 19th minute when Cameroon’s Vincent Aboubakar handled in the 18-yard area to give away a penalty – Sebastien Haller converted the spot kick to make it 1-0.
On the half hour mark the Elephants doubled their advantage, with Kouassi playing a great through ball to send Haller in on goal – the striker hit a low drive beyond the reach of Cameroon goalkeeper Devis Epassy Mboka to put the hosts firmly in control.
Ivory Coast continued to boss the game up to the half-time whistle, but did not add to their advantage.
Cameroon shuffled their pack at the start of the second half with the introduction of Karl Toko Ekambi and Stephane Bahoken off the bench, and they were soon able to find some cohesion in attack.
The Lions duly forced a way back into the game on the hour mark, with Eric Bailly giving away a penalty for a reckless challenge. Nicolas Ngamaleu struck home the spot kick to make it 2-1 and set up a tense final 30 minutes.
The Elephants almost re-established a two-goal lead on 75 minutes when midfielder Jean-Michael Seri struck the woodwork with a shot direct from a free kick.
The Indomitable Lions pushed hard for an equaliser in what remained of the game, but the home side held firm in defence to secure a potentially vital victory.
Ivory Coast and Cameroon will return to Group D action in October, with the Elephants taking on Malawi in back-to-back matches and the Indomitable Lions facing Mozambique both home and away.