World: Africa Cup of Nations
(Pen: 4 - 5)
1 - 1
(1 - 1)(1 - 0)
Côte d'Ivoire
H. Diallo (4)
F. Kessié (86)
By Peter Weis@PeterVicey

Haller and Kossounou both help Cote d'Ivoire knock out defending AFCON champs Senegal

Africa's grand continental showpiece will conclude with a new country reigning as the "King of the CAF Confederation". Defending 2021 AFCON champions Senegal were eliminated by hosts Cote d'Ivoire in a Round-of-16 penalty shootout on Monday evening. 

Two Bundesliga professionals representing the Ivorian "Elephants" made their first appearances for their country in the tournament. Leverkusen's Odilon Kossounou and Dortmund's Sebastien Haller both factored in heavily as the Ivorians beat the odds. 

Haller converted his try from the spot in the shootout. Kossounou found his way back into the starting XI after Cote d'Ivoire sacked their national team trainer following an embarrassing historic defeat that nearly saw them eliminated from the tournament. 
After barely surviving group-stage-play, 2023 Africa Cup of Nations hosts Cote d'Ivoire have defeated defending continental champions Senegal in their first knockout round fixture. Two Bundesliga representatives on international duty with the hosts (Odilon Kossounou of Bayer 04 Leverkusen and Sebastien Haller of Borussia Dortmund) both appeared for their country for the first time in the competition. Kossounou started and played right up until near the end of added extra time. Haller converted his turn from the spot in the penalty shootout after being introduced as a sub.

Interim Ivorian trainer Emerse Faé turned to Leverkusen's Kossounou after the recently sacked Jean-Louis Gasset left the Bayer starter unused on the bench through the first three group stage encounters. Kossonou - part of five changes to the starting XI - partnered up with former Eintracht Frankfurt star Evan N'dicka, who had been in place since the beginning of the competition. The changes couldn't keep the hosts from getting off to a nightmare start. Former FC Bayern München attacker Sadio Mané set-up Habib Diallo for the 1-0 in the 4th minute.

To their credit, the Ivorians didn't panic and slowly rested control of the game back. Finishing quality nevertheless was lacking and the opening 45 drew to a close with Senegal ahead by one goal. Faé's squad controlled most of the possession and pressed hard in search of the equalizer all throughout the second half. Dortmund's Haller was introduced in the 72nd. The BVB striker also logged his first minutes of the tournament. Haller's involvement in several quality attack charges still didn't produce the needed goal.

Eight minutes before the close of normal time, Franck Kessie finally received the opportunity to equalize from the penalty spot. The former AC Milan mainstay slammed home the 1-1 after Senegalese keeper Edouard Mendy got a late jump. The long VAR review process and bookings handed out to protesting players/coaches meant that there would be plenty of second-half stoppage time. Neither that nor an added extra 30 minutes, however, would be sufficient to separate the two sides.

Kossounou was yanked for the fresh-legged Wilfried Singo in the 116th as the time to head to a penalty shootout approached. Haller had the opportunity to help his nation avoid penalties at 120+2, but an Ivorian offensive foul cancelled out his effort. Haller would successfully execute his turn from the spot in the shootout's third round. So too would all of his Cote d'Ivoire teammates and all but one of the Senegalese takers. Ex-Mainzer Moussa Niakhaté ended up being the one who let the defending champs down as Les Elephants prevailed 5-4.

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