Zahoui counting on Elephants' experience

03 February 2012 08:16

Experience will be the key to Ivory Coast beating Africa Cup of Nations' co-hosts Equatorial Guinea in Saturday's quarter-final, coach Francois Zahoui believes.

On paper this last eight fixture in Malabo is a mis-match with the number one ranked team on the continent coming up against a side rated 42 rungs below them.

But Zahoui dismisses out of hand any suggestion that Equatorial Guinea are "weak", and he is taking nothing for granted as he plots the Ivorians' path to the semi-finals.

"When a team makes it into the quarter-finals it's not by chance," he said.

"What's more, they are playing at home, they are backed by their public. We respect them.

"We expect a difficult game against a rival playing at 300 percent of its capabilities."

Zahoui stressed there would be no room for error as the Elephants take another step towards their dream of the title.

"We are sticking to our objective, we'll keep cool heads, and confront each opponent with the maximum of humility and respect and take another step on the path to our final objective."

Asked to list Equatorial Guinea's weak points he countered: "The first mistake is to consider this a weak side. Against Sudan we only won 1-0. Football's not only about technique, there's the physical condition, the tactic, the mental strength.

"Equatorial Guinea will be very realist, very careful. They have fast strikers up front and a solid defensive block.

"We'll have to be patient, and not get upset. The environment will be hostile.

"But the advantage is that my boys have experience.

"When you carry the tag of favourites it's hard. Our experience -- you can't buy that. It's priceless. We mustn't panic. We'll have up against us a team backed by their fans, and that's a not insignificant plus for them. I know we'll suffer, but what interests me is that we win."

Source: AFP