BY STEVE AYOO
Ivory Coast will play Algeria in the third quarterfinal match at the Africa Cup of Nations after Wilfried Zaha’s second half goal gave them a 1-0 victory over Mali in Suez.
Zaha, who started and scored in a second match running, found the bottom right corner after 76 minutes as a punted freekick from keeper Sylvain Gbohouo was brushed into the path of the Crystal Palace winger by Jonathan Kodjia.
Substitute Adama Traore had the chance to send the game to extra time but his shot inside the area in stoppage time went straight at Sylvain Gbohouo who parried to safety.
Mali will have themselves to blame having been the more creative side but they were wasteful.
The Eagles’ captain Abdoulay Diaby was the biggest culprit in front of goal as he missed chance after chance especially in the first half when Ivory Coast were pushed to the wall.
FC Porto forward Moussa Marega and new Southampton signing Moussa Djenepo also failed to beat Gbohouo from open chances.
Ivory Coast struggled to stump authority against the throughly creative Mali side, the Elephants leaving for half time without only one shot on target.
Mali on the other hand had their heat map in and around the Ivorian box and sent in 9 shots towards Gbohouo’s goal, five troubling the TP Mazembe shot stopper.
Ivory Coast, champions in 1992 and 2015, improved after the break and carved out two good chances for Aston Villa forward Kodjia who couldn’t add to the single strike he got in the opening win against South Africa.
Zaha, who had been struggling to dazzle, provided the key moment in the game when it mattered as his goal carried The Elephants to the last 8.
Awaiting them for that quarterfinal battle set for July 11 in Suez is an Algerian side who have won all their four matches so far without conceding a goal.
The Desert Foxes beat Guinea 3-0 to qualify.