Nations Cup hosts Ivory Coast get off to a winning start under new manager

CAPE TOWN, June 3 (Reuters) – Africa Cup of Nations hosts Ivory Coast beat Zambia 3-1 at home on Friday, giving new coach Jean-Louis Gasset a winning start to his term.

The Ivorians are taking part in the qualifying competition even though they are already guaranteed a place in the 24-team tournament as hosts.

Captain Serge Aurier, Christian Kouame and Ibrahim Sangare scored second-half goals to secure victory for Yamoussoukro.

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Burkina Faso and Comoros also won as group qualification for the 2023 final continued as little Eswatini snatched an equalizer five minutes into stoppage time to draw Togo 2-2.

The powerhouse Ivorians, who missed out on World Cup qualification, made no changes to their squad but appointed the 68-year-old French coach two weeks ago to lead their bid to win the continental crown on home soil in 12 months.

They took 67 minutes to break the deadlock against Zambia and underline their quality before awarding Patson Daka an equalizer in stoppage time for the visitors.

Burkina Faso, forced to move their home game from Group B to neutral Morocco because their stadiums were not up to international standards, beat the Cape Verde Islands 2-0 with second-half goals in Marrakech from Hassane Bande and Dango Ouattara.

Also in Group B, tiny southern African kingdom Eswatini pulled off a 2-2 away draw as Siboniso Ngwenya snatched a final goal.

Comoros, who came as a surprise in the final in Cameroon in January, began their bid for a second straight appearance in the final with a 2-0 win at home to Lesotho in Group H.

Qualifying continues on Saturday, with home games for Senegal en route to the World Cup and 2019 African champions Algeria.

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Written by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Pritha Sarkar

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