Cote d’Ivoire and Morocco locked horns in a spirited international friendly, concluding their battle in a 1-1 draw at the Stade Felix Houphouet-Boigny in Abidjan on a balmy Saturday evening.
The Elephants took the lead late in the first half, thanks to a goal from Sebastian Haller, but Ayoub El Kaabi answered back for the Atlas Lions in the second half.
This deadlock serves as part of their preparations for the forthcoming 2026 Fifa World Cup qualifiers, set to kick off next month, and the highly anticipated Africa Cup of Nations, which will be hosted by Cote d’Ivoire in early 2024.
Morocco controlled possession during the first half, but it was Cote d’Ivoire who proved to be the more incisive attacking side. Leveraging the speed and strength of Jonathan Bamba and Sebastien Haller, the hosts continually tested the Atlas Lions’ defense.
Throughout the first 45 minutes, the Elephants kept Atlas Lions goalkeeper Yassine ‘Bono’ Bounou on his toes, with Bamba engineering a swift counter-attack just before halftime.
Haller’s clinical finish off Bamba’s perfectly weighted pass saw Cote d’Ivoire seize a 1-0 lead.
The second half unfolded with echoes of the first, as Morocco maintained ball possession. However, they remained susceptible to the counterattacks orchestrated by the hosts.
Cote d’Ivoire introduced fresh attacking vigor with the substitutions of Wilfried Zaha and Simon Adingra midway through the half.
Nonetheless, Morocco managed to level the score in the 81st minute when substitute Ayoub El Kaabi capitalized on a miscued touch by Cote d’Ivoire’s Abakar Sylla within the penalty area, slotting a shot past goalkeeper Yahia Fofana, equalizing the game at 1-1.
Cote d’Ivoire’s next match is set for Tuesday, October 17, when they will host South Africa at the same venue in Abidjan.