Côte d'Ivoire through to U-17 World Cup finals

Côte d'Ivoire through to U-17 World Cup finals
21 April 2013 10:58

The semi-final line-up for the 10th CAF U-17 Championship, Morocco 2013 is complete and the Baby Elephants of Cote d’Ivoire drew 0-0 with the Black Starlets of Ghana in a Group B match played in Casablanca on Saturday. The draw gave Cote d’ Ivoire five (5) points which took the side into second position behind Nigeria who topped the group after a 7-0 win over Congo.The Baby Elephants will now stay in Casablanca to play hosts Morocco on Tuesday, April 23 in the semi-final while Nigeria will meet Tunisia in Marrakesh. Reaching the semi-finals gave Cote d’ Ivoire a ticket to return to the FIFA U-17 World Cup where two years ago they reached the second round in the Mexico finals before losing 3-2 to France. They produced the tournament’s top goal scorer in Souleyman Coulibaly whose nine (9) goals equaled the tournament record.Ghana was still a chance to qualify for the semi-finals but needed a win against the Elephants, but coach Kwesi Fabin’s boys struggled to breakdown their more physical opponents in a match which had few chances for either side.There was no flowing football or meaningful creativity and neither team managed to get their “A” game going. Both goalkeepers Diagabate Abubakar and Mohammed Ali were hardly tested with probably the closest to some meaningful activity being Ivorian midfielder Parfait Kouassi Begbin’s shot which went over the bar late in the first half.Ghanaian football excelled in this competition and flourished during their five previous appearances (1995, 1997, 1999, 2005 and 2007) but the Black Starlets who have always ended up on the podium each time they reached the finals will be going home after group stage elimination for the first time. The Baby Elephants managed two draws a shock late win over Nigeria during their three group stage games. The side scored two goals in 270 minutes and conceded one. As soon as the final whistle against Ghana went the Ivorians were celebrating and in full voice. "The players and all of us are excited and very happy “, said the former coach of the senior Cote d’ Ivoire team  Gbonké Tia Martin. “We have qualified for the World Cup. That was the main goal of the when we left Abidjan and there is enormous satisfaction with this achievement. "Before the World Cup finals to be played in October and November later this year in the UAE the Baby Elephants have a clash with Morocco and a chance to play in the final for the 2013 CAF U-17 Championship, which all four semi-finals, who most certainly love to win in Morocco before the World Cup finals.

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