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Côte d'Ivoire's coach Emerse Fae looks on ahead of the Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) 2024 round of 16 football match between Senegal and Côte d'Ivoire at the Stade Charles Konan Banny in Yamoussoukro. /CFP

Côte d’Ivoire’s interim coach targets deep run at AFCON

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Cote d’Ivoire interim coach Emerse Fae said “morale is good” and believes his side has what it takes to go all the way at the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) after eliminating defending champions Senegal in the round of 16.

Cote d’Ivoire came from a goal behind on Monday to draw 1-1 and force a penalty shootout, which the host nation won 5-4.

Fae admitted during a post-match conference that there was a lot of pressure ahead of the game, adding that he barely slept before the match.

“I was thinking about all the scenarios, and if I said there was no pressure, I would be lying,” Fae said.

Cote d’Ivoire lost their final group match 4-0 to Equatorial Guinea and barely progressed through the group stage as one of the best third-placed teams after Morocco defeated Zambia 1-0 and Democratic Republic of Congo drew 0-0 with Tanzania.

Côte d’Ivoire players celebrate after the victory at the end of the Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) 2024 round of 16 football match between Senegal and Côte d’Ivoire at the Stade Charles Konan Banny in Yamoussoukro. /CFP

Jean-Louis Gasset was sacked as team manager even before qualification for the knockout stage was confirmed. An anxious wait for qualification culminated in a daunting draw against fellow West African side Senegal, who were in ominous form. Senegal had won all their group games, scoring eight goals and conceding just once.

Fae said Morocco’s win galvanized the team and gave them hope that they could pull off an upset in a tournament that has thrown up its fair share of shock results.

“At halftime, I told the players that they should continue playing the same way, not get confused.”

“We must not stop here. We must continue working, maintain this morale, and keep playing match by match.”

Cote d’Ivoire will now face either Mali or Burkina Faso in the quarterfinals on February 3.

(Story compiled with assistance from the Confederation of African Football)

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