Cote d’Ivoire’s caretaker coach, Emerse Fae, has emphasized the need for his team to build on their monumental victory over Senegal in the TotalEnergies CAF Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) last 16.
The hosts secured a dramatic 5-4 penalty shootout win after a 1-1 draw in extra time, eliminating the reigning champions.
Fae, who took over as caretaker coach after a challenging group stage that included a 4-0 loss to Equatorial Guinea, expressed satisfaction with the team’s turnaround. Despite an early setback with Senegal taking the lead, Cote d’Ivoire showed resilience, equalizing with a Franck Kessie penalty in the 86th minute.
The shootout hero, Kessie, stepped up to secure the victory, and Fae credited the team’s belief and confidence after overcoming the group stage challenges. The interim coach took full responsibility for tactical decisions during the match, distinguishing his approach from the previous coaching setup.
“We had a difficult start, conceding an early goal, but I told the players at halftime to keep playing the same way, not get confused,” said Fae. “It was my decision on what needed to be done. With Gasset, I would give an opinion and he would make the decision.”
Admitting to intense pressure before the Senegal showdown, Fae acknowledged the significance of the win and the boost it provided to the team’s morale.
“There was a lot of pressure before the match, and match day was too long for me. I couldn’t nap as usual, thinking about all scenarios. If I said there was no pressure, I would be lying,” Fae confessed.
Looking ahead, Fae stressed the importance of not getting carried away by the victory and maintaining focus for the challenges in the quarter-finals and beyond.
“We must not stop here; we must continue working, maintain this morale, and keep playing match by match,” asserted Fae.
With the Elephants securing a place in the quarter-finals, Fae’s determination reflects a desire to turn the Senegal upset into a catalyst for further success as they pursue AFCON glory.
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