Olyroos Out After Ivory Coast Defeat

Côte d’Ivoire 1-0 Australia

Australia’s Olympic football campaign came to an end tonight at the Tianjin Olympic Centre Stadium after they lost 1-0 to the Ivory Coast in their Group A do or die clash.

Salomon Kalou’s well taken goal nine minutes from time was enough to send the Olyroos home and in the process, book a place for the Young Elephants in the quarter finals.

The Aussies enjoyed the lion’s share of possession but they rarely looked menacing enough infront of goal. In truth, the Ivorians never really looked like losing this match as they created the better scoring chances and appeared far more confident and comfortable on the ball.

First Half

Having approached the previous two group games with a defensive mindset, Graham Arnold could no longer rely on that game plan as his boys from Down Under had to come out of their shell and attack in search of a win.

Indeed, the Olyroos got a dose of their own medicine. The West Africans, who only needed a draw to secure progression, lined up with a defensive formation but still provided plenty of attacking flair. In fact, they produced the first shot at goal after just two minutes when Gervinho carved his way down the right flank before squaring for Soloman Kalou, but the Chelsea man sliced his shot well wide.

Australia dominated possession early on but their poor passing and ball control meant that almost every move broke down before they could even come close to the final third of the pitch.

The Young Elephants had another opening in the 12th minute when Franck Dja-Djedje tested Adam Federici with a scorching low drive and a wicked bounce off the patchy ground forced the Reading-based keeper to spill the ball, but he scrambled to gather it on the second asking.

The Aussies’ first shot on goal came on 18 minutes when Nikita Rukavytsya turned his man and unleashed a thunderous left footer from 25 yards out but it rocketed straight into the hands of Vincent Angban.

A minute later, the Olyroos should have gone ahead. David Carney beat the offside trap and latched onto a through ball but he hesitated his shot. That allowed Viera Diarrassouba to double back behind the line and block the effort, before Angban gathered gratefully.

Côte d’Ivoire’s next chance arrived in the 27th minute when Kalou danced past Trent McClenahan with ease before rattling in a deflected shot that trickled agonizingly wide.

On the half hour mark, Carney’s freekick ripped through the African wall but once again, Angban didn’t have to move too much to make the save.

Three minutes after that, Kristian Sarkies released Rukavytsya into the box but with a defender bearing down on him, his hurried shot had neither the power nor elevation to trouble the Young Elephants goalie.

And four minutes before the break, Billy Celeski wiggled into space down the right flank but instead of squaring the ball back for a teammate, he went for glory himself with a low shot at the near post but Angban hit the ground quickly to make the save.

Second Half

Neither coaches made any changes for the start of the second period and the game followed a similar pattern. Australia continued to see plenty of the ball but lacked any penetration, while Côte d’Ivoire attacked occasionally with plenty of invention.

Australia’s first real chance in the second half came in the 52nd minute. Sarkies curled in a lovely freekick from 20 yards and Angban unconvincingly pushed it out for a corner as the ball almost slipped through his fingers.

The Ivory Coast’s had to wait until the hour mark before they really threatened Federici’s goal again when Emmanuel Kone thumped a deflected shot wide after Kalou did all the hard work to tee him up.

Moments later, Angoua almost scored one of the goals of the tournament when he drilled in a piledriver from 30 yards out but Federici stretched just high enough to tip it over the bar with the slightest of touches.

Gerard Gili’s boys had another opportunity to score a humdinger in the 67th minute when Gervinho and Kalou combined brilliantly with a series of one-twos, but the 23 year old Blues forward blasted his final shot just inches over the bar.

Arnold’s side responded in the 72nd minute when Carney lofted in a cross from the left for an unmarked Celeski but the Melbourne Victory midfielder could only head the ball downwards tamely. And despite Angban’s less than convincing attempt to punch the effort away, the Olyroos failed to pounce.

The deadlock was broken in the 81st minute when the Gervinho-Kalou combo finally bore fruit. Gervinho easily skipped past his marker and charged towards goal, before slipping the ball to Kalou who finished emphatically with a sweet shot into the top corner of the goal.

Substitute Abraham Guie-Guie almost made it 2-0 two minutes from time when his low shot inside the box squirmed under Federici’s body but he recovered in time to collect it before it could roll over the line.

A minute into injury time, Federici had to pull off a sharp reflex save to deny the Young Elephants again after a delightful build up with some slick passing.

Côte d’Ivoire finished as Group A runners-up with six points and they will now face off with Group B winners Nigeria in a tantalizing all-African quarter-final clash.


Côte d’Ivoire: Angban – Wawa, Diarrasouba, Bamba, Angoua – Bagayoko – Kone, Dja-Djedje, Kalou (Moura-Komenan 89’) – Gervinho (c), Cisse (Guie-Guie 86’)

Australia: Federici – North, Spiranovic, Milligan (c) (Troisi 86’), McClenahan – Carney, Sarkies, Musialik, Celeski (Topor-Stanley 86’) – Bridge, Rukavytsya (Simon 73’)


1-0: Côte d’Ivoire (Kalou 81’)

Kalou has scored the only goal in this match in the 81st minute for Ivory Coast.

81′ 1-0 S. Kalou

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Olyroos Out After Ivory Coast Defeat Reviewed by admin Ucop on 4:51 PM Rating: 5

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