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Football: Elephants set for final showdown with hosts; AFRICAN NATIONS CUP.

Byline: DAN CHILDS

IVORY COAST will need to upset the odds for a third match in succession in Friday's African Nations Cup if they are going to win the tournament for the first time in the country's history.

The Elephants followed up their 12-11 penalty-shootout success over pre-tournament jollies Cameroon by defying odds of 15-8 to beat Nigeria in yesterday's semi-final at the Harras El-Hedoud stadium.

Didier Drogba struck the only goal of the game for the Ivory Coast who are trading at 2.32 on Betfair to win the tournament.

The result was further evidence of Nigeria's fall from grace - the Super Eagles failed to qualify for Germany 2006.

And the mood in the Nigerian camp will not have been helped by a post-match interview from Jay-Jay Okocha who re-affirmed his decision to quit international football.

Okocha's Bolton team-mate El-Hadji Diouf was also on the losing side as Senegal were defeated 2-1 by Egypt at the International Stadium.

A first-half Ahmad Hassan penalty seemed to have set the Pharoahs on their way, but a Mamadou Niang strike levelled things up just six minutes after the interval.

With the scores tied at 1-1, Egypt coach Hassan Shehata incurred the wrath of Mido by substituting the Tottenham striker on 79 minutes. The pair had a heated touchline argument and the Spurs man is unlikely to feature in the final. Mido's replacement Amr Zaki headed the winner just two minutes after coming on. Egypt, who beat the Ivory Coast 3-1 in the group stages, are favourites to lift the trophy. Betfair to back prices at 7pm last night - African Nations Cup: 1.74 Egypt (1.8 to lay), 2.32 Ivory Coast (2.36).

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Chelsea frontman Didier Drogba celebrates his winning goal with Ivory Coast colleague Christian Koffi Ndri
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Feb 8, 2006
Words:299
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