Goalkeeper Jean Malick Ble Zadi saved two penalties as Cote d’Ivoire booked their spot in Group B of the Wafu Cup of Nations with a 4-3 win over Togo on Tuesday.
The penultimate knockout clash had ended in a barren stalemate after 90 minutes at the Cape Coast Sports Stadium.
Togo started the better of the two teams and created the first significant chance on goal in the sixth minute when Essis Beaudeleire Aka played Roland Zan Bi through on goal, but he saw his close range effort well-saved by the Ivorian keeper.
Ten minutes later Togo’s Messan Degli created some space for himself 25-yards out from goal, but he saw his thunderbolt brilliantly saved by Jean Malick Ble Zadi.
In the 22nd minute Messan Degli turned provider when his cross from the right was met by Koidjo Sewonou, but his ten-yard header came off the crossbar.
Cote d’Ivoire created their first real scoring opportunity five minutes later when Inza Diabate met a low right-wing cross from Dagou Willie Britto, but his 14-yard shot shaved the wrong side of the upright.
In the 38th minute, Togo were on the attack again when Koidjo Sewonou drove into the box from the right, beating two defenders in the process, but with just the keeper to beat he shot narrowly wide from eight-yards out
Both teams traded blows in the final minutes of the stanza, but neither could break the deadlock before the halftime whistle.
The second half failed to produce as much excitement as the first with chances on goal few and far between.
The first shot on goal in the second half came in the 56th minute when Togo’s Komlan Agbegniadan fired a thunderous 20-yard volley just over the target.
The next decent attempt on goal only came in the 76th minute when Cote d’Ivoire’s Inza Diabate cut inside from the left flank and saw his shot from the edge of the box deflected inches wide.
Thomas Gonazo almost won the match for the Elephants in the final minute of the match when he met a cross from the right, but his 14-yard effort was spectacularly saved by the Ivorian keeper.
The match ended 0-0 and went into the dreaded penalty shootout which Cote d’Ivoire won 4-3 after two saves from goalkeeper Jean Malick Ble Zadi.
Cote d’Ivoire: 1. Zadi, 2. Britto, 13. Konan, 4. Ouattara, 14. Jimoh, 9. N’Guessan (11. Guiagon 88’), 5. Aka Essis, 8. Diarra (12. Cissoko 85’), 10. Diabate, 3. Gonazo, 7. Zan Bi (15. N’Guessan 58’).
Togo: 16. Bassa-Djeri, 17. Adegnon, 3. Issifou, 5. Ouro-Sama, 11. Kouloun, 8. Agbegniadan, 6. Novon, 2. Atchou (9. Nya-Vedji 57’), 7. Degli (18. Akoro 69’), 14. Tchatakora, 12. Sewonou.