Sunday wasn’t a good day to be Kemoko Camara.
Well, to be more exact, a 20-minute period on Sunday wasn’t a good time to be anyone in Guinea’s defense, including goalkeeper Camara, as that’s when the Ivory Coast broke down a resilient Guinea side with four goals in the final 20 minutes to pick up a 5-0 win and advance to the semifinals of the African Cup of Nations.
The Ivorians took a 1-0 lead in the 25th minute when Abdulkader Keita finished superbly from a tight angle, with Camara trying to make a play on the ball, but missing it completely. Keita was Lyon’s record signing this summer, coming for 18 million euros, and hasn’t produced a goal for OL in 22 appearances. But, he might have needed this trip to rediscover his form, and may start validating that big fee once he gets back to France.
Guinea did a great job of holding them after Keita’s goal, but when the floodgates opened, there was no stopping it.
Two of the impressive things about the Ivory Coast’s talent are their athleticism and the chemistry between their players, which was evident in the flurry of goals, which started in the 70th minute, when Didier Drogba brushed aside a powerless Guinea defender on his way into the box, where he finished past an equally powerless Camara.
Drogba turned provider on the third goal, as he threaded a pass through to Chelsea teammate Salomon Kalou, who rounded the Camara, and had all the time in the world to finish, and he decided to take all of that time as well, tapping the ball along the goal area until he finally side-footed it in. Showboating or not? That’s a matter of individual opinion, but whatever it was, it was 3-0 in favor of the Ivory Coast on 73.
The fourth goal was made possible by Arouna Kone battling to regain possession, and after he did so, he played it to Yaya Toure, who set up Mr. Kalou for #2, who had a wide-open net before him, and this time he didn’t waste any time blasting it home from close range to make it 4-0 in the 81st minute.
Avram Grant likely can’t wait for his two Ivorian forwards to get back to England, because if they play as well down the stretch as they have in Ghana, then it’s going to be a three-horse race for the Premier League title down to the wire.
The fifth, and thankfully for Guinea, final goal may have been indefensible. In the 86th minute, Bakari Kone unleashed an absolute rocket that might have taken Camara’s head or hands off had he tried to get in the way of the shot.
It was a game effort by Guinea, but without their star attacker, and with no match for the Ivory Coast’s physically superior forwards, it wasn’t going to be their day.
Today’s quarterfinal matchups will see Egypt take on Angola in the early tie, with Tunisia and Cameroon going at it in the nightcap.