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Stubborn Mozambique defense hold firm in 0-0 draw against Ivory Coast

Mozambique and Ivory Coast played out a scoreless draw on Friday to open up Group D’s account in FIFA World Cup qualifying as the favorites from West Africa could not find the breakthrough in Maputo. Playing at home, the Mambas did well to frustrate an Ivorian attack containing plenty of star power and European based talent. Both teams will await the later match between Malawi and Cameroon to find out their status heading into the second matchday.

It was an excellent opportunity for the Elephants of Ivory Coast to gain three road points against a Mozambique side that was missing a few important players based abroad, including stalwart defender Mexer of Bordeaux and Portuguese based attacker Clesio Bauque. However, Maritimo center back Zainadine Junior and Lille full back Reinildo Mandava were present to join a mostly domestic based side that earned a hard fought point in Nouakchott despite lacking much going forward.

Ivory Coast had the best opportunity in a first half that lacked much in the way of chances for either side. In the 26th minute, PSV midfielder Ibrahim Sangare sent forward Sebastien Haller in behind the defense with a clever through ball, but the Ajax Amsterdam player could only drag his shot wide of Ernan Siluane’s goal. At halftime the score was 0-0 with Ivory Coast dominating possession but doing little with it.

Manager Patrice Beaumelle attempted to increase the Ivorian initiative in attack by introducing Jeremie Boga and Franck Boli 15 minutes into the second half, but the Elephants never really turned their performance up to a level that substantially threatened the Mambas. Max Gradel’s 59th minute free kick from 30 yards out stung Siluane’s gloves but the keeper had the shot well tracked. Boli also had a shot from outside the box that was struck well but wide and not too troubling in the end.

Mozambique were mostly toothless in attack. Recent Al Ahly signing Luis Miquissone had a free role to move around and attempt to generate attacks for the “hosts”, but he had little to no support from a mostly domestic based attack that did not possess the quality to trouble the Ivorian defense. Full back Mandava’s 74th minute burst down the left flank provided plenty of time for the 2020-21 French Ligue 1 champion to pick out a cross, but his service went into the stands and summarized the hapless Mozambican attacking efforts throughout the 90 minutes.

Highlights of the match are in the link below.

FIFA TV Highlights

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