AFCON 2023: Ivory Coast hero Emerse Fae ready to guide the Elephants to more glory


Emerse Fae, the caretaker coach of Cote d’Ivoire, is not content with just making history by eliminating the defending champions Senegal in a thrilling penalty shootout during the TotalEnergies CAF Africa Cup of Nations last 16.

Fae, who took charge as an interim boss, insists that his team “must not stop here” after their monumental victory on Monday, where they triumphed 5-4 in the shootout following a 1-1 draw after extra time.

In front of an electrifying home crowd at the Stade Charles Konan Banny in Yamoussoukro, Senegal took an early lead just four minutes into the game.

Sadio Mane’s exquisite cross found Habib Diallo, who controlled the ball with composure before unleashing a powerful strike into the top corner. However, the Ivorians remained undeterred, pressing on relentlessly.

The turning point came in the 86th minute when the host nation was awarded a penalty after Nicolas Pepe was clumsily brought down by Edouard Mendy. Franck Kessie, after VAR confirmation, calmly dispatched the spot-kick, leveling the score and sending the game into extra time.

The tension reached its peak in the penalty shootout, with Kessie again stepping up to convert the winning kick and triggering jubilation among the home supporters.

For Fae, this victory marked a significant turnaround for the Elephants, who endured a difficult group stage with two defeats, including a humiliating 4-0 loss to Equatorial Guinea.

Taking full responsibility for tactical decisions, Fae emphasized the importance of maintaining the team’s focus despite the pressure. “It was my decision on what needed to be done. With Gasset, I would give an opinion and he would make the decision,” Fae explained.

Admitting to feeling intense pressure before the Senegal showdown, Fae acknowledged the impact of scraping through the group stage.

“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,” he confessed.

Now with a quarter-final berth secured, Fae is cautious not to let the euphoria overshadow the challenges ahead. “We must not stop here; we must continue working, maintain this morale, and keep playing match by match,” Fae asserted.

Having inspired a remarkable reversal in fortunes, Fae is determined to ensure that the triumph over Senegal is just the beginning as the Elephants aim for further AFCON glory.

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