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25 February 2024

Chelsea's Kalou gives Ivory Coast another win

Ivory Coast's Kalou Salomon (right) fights for the ball with Libya's defender Abdulaziz Belrrish during their friendly match in Abu Dhabi on Monday. (REUTERS)


Chelsea striker Salomon Kalou scored on the hour mark to give Ivory Coast a 1-0 win over Libya on Monday in a 2012 Africa Cup of Nations warm-up match.

It was the second victory within four days for the title co-favourites in Abu Dhabi after Kalou and Didier Drogba grabbed the goals that sank Tunisia 2-0 last Friday.

Libya, fairy-tale qualifiers after playing while a civil war raged between pro and anti-Moamer Kadhadi forces last year, came under increasing pressure at the Al Nayhan Stadium and finally caved in 15 minutes into the second half.

Defender Igor Lolo delivered a deep cross and Kalou rose between two Libyans to nod the ball wide of 39-year-goalkeeper and captain Samir Aboud for the match winner.

Ivory Coast captain Drogba came closest to breaking the first-half stalemate, turning a defender and cracking a low shot across Aboud that rebounded back into play off the base of the far post.

The Ivorians stroked the ball about with minimum fuss and did nothing to suggest they will not be strong contenders when the Cup of Nations kicks off in Equatorial Guinea this weekend.

Libya were well organised under the guidance of Brazilian coach Manuel Paqueta and the starting line-up included midfielder Walid El Khatroushi, who fought with the rebels who toppled Kadhafi.

Co-hosts Gabon failed to score at home for the second time within eight days and had to settle for a 0-0 draw against Sudan in a match that inaugurated the 20,000-seat Franceville Stadium in the south-east of the country.

Former Glasgow Rangers and Hull City striker Daniel Cousin had a shot cleared off the line and Sudan substitute goalkeeper Akram Al Hady saved superbly from Fabrice Do Marcolino midway through the second half.

It was not the result Gabon wanted a week after being held goalless by Burkina Faso while Sudan have recovered well from a 3-0 mauling by Tunisia last week to lose narrowly in Senegal and hold the Panthers.

Midfielder Youssef Hadji from French club Rennes scored a second-half hat-trick as Morocco came from behind to defeat Swiss club Grasshopper Zurich 3-1 in Spanish city Marbella.

Cameroon host Niger Tuesday and Guinea play Kenya Wednesday in other warm-up games before the Cup of Nations opens Saturday in Equatoguinean mainland city Bata when the host nation meet Libya.