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Zambia draw with Namibia to top Group B

Football
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Cisse wants Ivory Coast to draw on spirit of 2016 after CHAN defeat

Ivory Coast goalkeeper Abdoul Karim Cisse believes that the Elephants can turn round their African Nations Championship campaign despite a shock opening defeat by Namibia, having also bounced back from adversity in the 2016 event.

Two years ago, Cisse was part of an Elephants squad that were defeated 1-0 by hosts Rwanda in their tournament opener, but went onto top Group A after consecutive victories over Morocco and Gabon.

They ultimately finished third after beating Cameroon in the quarter finals and falling to Mali in the semi, and Cisse believes that a similar campaign isn't beyond Ibrahim Kamara's side.

"We're still in the competition," the ASEC Mimosas stopper told KweséESPN. "The start is very important, but we've been here before.

"Two years ago, we lost the first match but we still made it to the semi final, so nothing's lost."

Despite boasting some of the tournament's most exciting attacking players in William Togui Mel and Fonsinho, the Elephants struggled to break down a dogged Namibian side in Marrakech.

They were hit with a killer blow in the final action of the game, as Charles Hambira leapt above the Ivorian defence to head home a 92nd-minute winner and secure a first competitive victory for Namibia against the West Africans.

"It's normal that we're rather disappointed because we worked hard," 32-year-old Cisse added. "We wanted to get a good result because the matches we've got ahead of us are pretty difficult."

To repeat another heroic comeback, the Elephants will likely need to beat an experienced Zambian side who impressed in their opener - beating Uganda 3-1 - in their second group game.

"The Zambia match is just another game," concluded Cisse. "They're a good footballing nation, but we know how to play and we know our qualities.

"The fact we've lost our first game increases the pressure, but it's a good pressure.

"It's going to be pretty difficult, but [against Zambia] you'll see a new face of the Ivory Coast."

Ed Dove is the Soccer Editor for KweséESPN. Follow him on Twitter @EddyDove.

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