I.Coast take steps to avoid fresh penalty misery
After missing out on two Africa Cup of Nations Cup titles on penalties, coach Sabri Lamouchi has taken direct action to prevent his 2013 squad suffering a similar fate.
The Ivorians, who face Nigeria here in Sunday's quarter-final, are 180 minutes of regulation time away from making their third Nations Cup title decider in seven years.
They missed out on spot kicks to Egypt for the 2006 title in Cairo, and experienced similar heartache 12 months ago to Zambia in Libreville.
To avoid history repeating itself in South Africa now they are into the serious bit of the competition Lamouchi disclosed: "We've already started working on penalties.
"Obviously I hope they don't arise, but if they do - we'll be ready."
Lamouchi rotated his squad for the closing 'dead' Group D game with Algeria, making nine changes, including a start for captain Didier Drogba, who was on the bench for the second match against Tunisia.
Asked at a press conference here Friday on Drogba's eventual place in his starting XI the former Parma, Genoa and inter Milan midfielder replied: "Didier has made clear progress, he's working hard.
"Like the rest of the group Didier is essential for the rest of the competition. I won't change anything in the way I pick my team, I'll try to put the best one forward."
He stressed the importance to his players of minimising errors on Sunday.
"One error and we could pay in cash, we don't have the right to make mistakes now. If we win this one we continue, if we lose we're going home."
Lamouchi's team is dripping with quality and bags of experience of previous Nations Cups, in contrast to Stephen Keshi's Nigeria side.
He reflected: "This Nigeria team may not have the experience of the great Nigeria sides of the past, but they have young talented players, and we respect them.
"It's out of the question that we'll under-estimate them, they have the means to cause us problems."
He praised his squad's spirit, pointing to their performance in the 2-2 draw with Algeria with first place in their group already guaranteed.
"Pride was all that was at stake in our last game, but the spirit they showed there and my players' reaction was very pleasing, that's important for the competition."
Saint Etienne midfielder Max Gradel suggested Lamouchi, in his first managerial post, had introduced a crucial new quality to this class of 2013.
"The new coach has shown us how to respect each other, that's important, we're ready to fight for one another, that's a big difference for this Nations Cup, I hope that will help us to finally win the title."
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