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Friday, January 25, 2008
Ivory Coast through to African Cup quarters

SEKONDI, Ghana -- Didier Drogba scored one goal and set up another for Aruna Dindane to help Ivory Coast to a 4-1 victory over Benin on Friday, making the Elephants the first team to qualify for the quarterfinals of the African Cup of Nations.

Nigeria's Super Eagles failed to live up to their nickname, struggling once again to create chances in a 0-0 draw against Mali in Group B's other match.

The result will likely increase criticism of Nigeria manger and former Germany coach Berti Vogts, who was ridiculed after a 1-0 opening loss to Ivory Coast.

Drogba pounced on a through ball from Barcelona midfielder Yaya Toure in the 40th minute and calmly poked the ball home for his 31st international goal in 47 games.

"We played against a team that was very compact and didn't want to come out," Drogba said. "It's nice for me to score my first goal."

Ivory Coast climbed alone atop Group B with six points, two more than Mali, while Nigeria has one. Benin has zero points and was eliminated.

Nigeria's strike force, featuring English Premier League forwards John Utaka of Portsmouth and Obafemi Martins of Newcastle, was stifled, while Sevilla striker Freddie Kanoute looked sharp but failed to get much service up front for Mali.

Mali needs only a draw against Ivory Coast in its final group game on Tuesday to advance, although that leaves Drogba in somewhat of a dilemma.

"It's going to be difficult," he said. "I'm from Ivory Coast. My wife is from Mali. But I will give my best."

Toure gave the Ivorians a 2-0 lead off a pass from brother Kolo Toure in the 43rd, and Abdulkader Keita added extra insurance in the 52nd. Drogba set up the last goal in the 63rd, sending a flick with the outside of his right boot for Dindane to head in.

Razack Omotoyossi scored a consolation goal for Benin in injury time.

"It's good to win the first two games," Drogba said. "Now, we have to concentrate on Mali."

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