Gervinho double sends strong Ivorian message

Gervinho scored twice on Monday as Africa Cup of Nations favourites Ivory Coast sent out a strong warning of their potential with a 4-2 win over Egypt in a warm-up international.

There were, however, signs of some defensive fragility for the Ivorians, who were playing just one preparatory game before they head to South Africa for the 16-team tournament which kicks off on Saturday.

Gervinho netted a 38th-minute penalty, somewhat fortuitously awarded to the Ivorians, after Egypt had taken a 19th-minute lead through veteran Mohamed Aboutrika.

Lanky forward Lacina Traore beat the offside trap two minutes later to score at the end of a searching pass from Cheick Tiote as the Ivorians turned around the deficit and Gervinho extended the lead to 3-1 eight minutes after the break.

Again he had a touch of good fortune as he missed the initial cross with an attempted header but the ball bounced back into his path off the Egyptian defender behind him, leaving Gervinho with an easy tap-away.

Mohamed Nagui brought Egypt back with a close-range finish on the hour that caught the Ivory Coast defence static, but Didier Ya Konan restored the two-goal advantage eight minutes from the end.

Didier Drogba emerged for the second half for his 90th cap but made little impact save for being caught offside five times.

The Ivorians have been training in Abu Dhabi over the last 10 days in preparation for the Nations Cup, where they are top seeds in Group D.

Their opening game is against Togo in Rustenburg on January 22.


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