Abidjan – Cote d’Ivoire interim coach Emerse Fae has urged his team to stay focused on the ultimate goal after beating defending Champions Senegal in the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations to pull off one of the biggest upsets in the tournament’s history.
The Elephants stunned the Teranga Lions 5-4 on penalties on Monday to reach the quarter-finals after a 1-1 draw in regulation. Franck Kessie scored the decisive spot-kick in front of a jubilant home crowd in Yamoussoukro.
It marked a dramatic turnaround for Cote d’Ivoire after a dismal group stage saw them suffer two defeats. But Fae said his players cannot afford to get complacent after knocking out the title holders.
The Ivory Coast face a tough quarterfinal test against Northern nieghbours Mali. But Fae believes his team must be ready to make a deep run if they stay focused.
“This is just one step. We must continue working hard and take it match by match,” Fae asserted.
The caretaker coach added that belief was restored after barely scraping through their group. “Beating Senegal gave us confidence. But we must keep our eyes on the ultimate target.”
After ordering a bold tactical shift at halftime against Senegal, Fae is urging his squad to maintain focus as they bid for AFCON glory on home soil.