Côte d’Ivoire striker Wilfried Bony has called on his team-mates to react strongly to their disappointing start to the group phase of the CAF Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.
Les Elephants won their opening Group D game against Sierra Leone 2-1, but then crashed to an embarrassing 4-1 defeat in Yaounde against Cameroon, who top the group with a maximum six points from their two games. Like Côte d’Ivoire, Congo DR have three points, but are second on goal difference, and the two will meet in back-to-back matches on Saturday and Wednesday.
The in-form Bony, who scored for his Premier League club Swansea City in their last league match ahead of the international break, told FIFA.com that they were under pressure to produce results against the Leopards.
“We know that we have not made the best of starts. After a tough win against Sierra Leone, we lost badly against Cameroon. We have to react against Congo DR. These will not be easy matches, as they also need points, but it is our goal to qualify for the finals in Morocco next year.”
Bony was a member of the Côte d’Ivoire squad at the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ earlier this year, when Les Elephants were disappointingly knocked out in the group phase, leading to coach Sabri Lamouchi standing down. He was replaced by compatriot Herve Renard, who took Zambia to an upset victory at the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations tournament. “Renard has his own methods,” said Bony of the transition.
” They are different from those of Lamouchi. This is a coach who places great emphasis on the physical component of the game. Training sessions are very demanding, very physical. He communicates a lot with the players and is very heavily involved during training.”