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Côte d'Ivoire's Kodjia winner sinks Bafana in AFCON opener

It was always going to be a tough ask for Bafana Bafana, coming up against one of the pre-tournament favourites first up.

bafana-cotejpg

South Africa took on Côte d'Ivoire in their opening game of the Africa Cup Nations in the sweltering heat of Cairo.

It was always going to be a tough ask for Bafana Bafana, coming up against one of the pre-tournament favourites first up.

Despite that, South Africa came into the match having never lost to the 2015 champions.

The Elephants dominated the opening 20 minutes with Nicolas Pepe making a good run into the box but was unable to find the killer pass after just 5 minutes of play.

The majority of the game was being played in the South African half but Ivory Coast struggled to carve out any meaningful chances as South Africa looked happy to sit back and try hit on the counter.

For all of Ivory Coast's dominance it was South Africa who created the most clear cut chance as Thulani Hlatshwayo headed narrowly wide following a corner in the 24th minute.

Ivory Coast began to exert more pressure on the Bafana goal and Pepe hit the crossbar with a vicious free kick on the half hour mark.

Moments later and Ronwen Williams was forced into a world class save, denying Jonathan Kodjia from close range after a wayward back from Hlatshwayo.

That proved to be the last meaningful act of the first half as the sides went into the break locked at 0-0.

The second half started much the same as the first with Ivory Coast dominating possession but unable to trouble Williams in goal.

The heat was clearly taking its toll with players from both sides looking sluggish on the ball.

That was until Kodjia latched onto a good ball in behind from Max Gradel and unlike his first one on one chance, went for placement rather than power, slotting through the legs of an onrushing Williams in the 64th minute.

Chances were few and far between for both sides as South Africa struggled to put together any meaningful attacks, while Ivory Coast were happy to sit back and allow Bafana to have possession in the midfield.

Stuart Baxter brought on Lars Veldwijk inside the final 10 minutes, with the number 21 being brought down inside the box, but his muted appeals were waved away.

With just 2 minutes remaining, Williams came to the rescue again as Pepe struck another brilliant free kick that would have nestled in the top corner had it not been for the outstretched right hand of Bafana's number 1.

Sbusiso Vilakazi had a chance to level in the dying moments of added time, but his off balance effort sailed over the crossbar.

South Africa suffering a narrow 1-0 defeat in their opening Group D encounter.

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