By Felix Frimpong
Jean Malick Zadi was the star man on Tuesday afternoon as the Elephants of Ivory Coast beat the Sparrow Hawks of Togo 4-3 on penalty shootout at the Cape Coast Sports Stadium to progress to the group stage of the ongoing 2017 WAFU Cup.
The highly entertaining match ended in a stalemate [0-0] after 90 minutes and the winner had to be decided through the lottery of penalty where the Ivorian goalie – Malick Zadi saved two kicks.
Jean Malick Zadi made three wonderful saves in the first 23 minutes of the game to deny Roland Zan Bi [6th minute], Essis Beaudeleire [16th minute], and Messan Degli [23rd minute] from finding the back of the net.
The Elephants who were relying mostly on counter breaks in the first half came close to scoring in the 27th minute when Inza Diabate’s close range strike came off the post.
Koidjo Sewonou also came close to scoring in the 39th minute but failed to beat goalkeeper Jean Malick Zadi after taking down two defenders on his way into the eighteen yard box.
Both coaches adopted a more pragmatic approach in the second half as only three decent chances were created on the road. First, by West Africa Football Academy striker Komlan Agbeniandan whose 57th minute effort missed the post.
Inza Diabate also came close again in the 76th minute when his shot deflected the post whiles Thomas Gonazo’s timely effort in the 90th minute was saved by goalkeeper Jean Malick Zadi.
The match headed straight into the lottery books [penalty shootout] where Jean Malick Zadi made two saves to snatch a win from the Sparrow Hawks.