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Ivory Coast drops first points in 2026 World Cup qualifiers after draw with Kenya

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Côte d’Ivoire’s winning streak came to an end as they were held to a goalless draw by Kenya in their fourth match of the 2026 World Cup qualifiers. The match, hosted in Malawi due to logistical reasons, saw the Elephants maintain their position at the top of Group F, though they now risk being just one point ahead of Gabon if the latter secures a victory against Gambia later in the evening.

The game began at a measured pace, with both teams favoring slow, patient build-up play.

The Harambee Stars initially controlled possession in the first ten minutes before the Ivorians started to assert their dominance.

Despite their efforts, the first half ended without any significant scoring opportunities for either side.

The match’s first notable moment came in the 24th minute when Seko Fofana, attempting to replicate his scoring feat from the previous match against Gabon, unleashed a powerful shot from 30 meters out.

However, his effort sailed over the Kenyan goal, guarded by Patrick Matasi. Kenya’s response came around the 31st minute with a direct free kick from 30 meters, which was comfortably saved by Yahia Fofana.

As the first half drew to a close, Ivory Coast nearly broke the deadlock with a free kick from Jérémie Boga.

His 20-meter effort was acrobatically saved by Matasi, who tipped the ball over the bar to keep the score level at halftime.

The second half saw an uptick in intensity from both teams. Ivory Coast created a promising chance in the 67th minute when Franck Kessié, unmarked at the far post, failed to convert a corner kick, missing a relatively open goal.

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Kenya countered with a dangerous three-on-one opportunity five minutes later, but a crucial intervention by Y. Fofana and a defender’s goal-line clearance preserved the stalemate.

In the dying minutes, Simon Adingra’s dynamic play nearly provided a breakthrough for the Elephants.

The young Brighton winger’s cross resulted in a shot that hit the crossbar in the 85th minute. Shortly after, Adingra’s own attempt was blocked by a Kenyan defender, thwarting another close call.

The draw marked the end of Ivory Coast’s perfect run in the qualifiers. Despite the setback, they remain atop Group F with 10 points.

However, their lead could be reduced to a single point should Gabon triumph over Gambia. Meanwhile, Kenya stays provisionally third in the group.

The Elephants will need to regroup and refocus as they continue their quest for a spot in the 2026 World Cup, with upcoming fixtures proving crucial in maintaining their lead in the group standings.

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