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Lamouchi expected tougher test

Ivory Coast coach Sabri Lamouchi says he is shocked at how easily his side have reached the quarter-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations.

Lamouchi’s men have sealed top spot in Group D with a game to spare after a 2-1 win over Togo was followed by a 3-0 thrashing of Tunisia.

But while the straightforward nature of their progress is a welcome surprise, the 41-year-old insists his side are remaining focused as they prepare to take on already-eliminated Algeria.

“We wouldn’t have imagined after two games to have six points and to be certain to finish on top of the group,” Lamouchi said.

“This group was called ‘the death group’. Of course, we thought it would have been more competitive, (but that’s) good for us. Now, we can play the next game more relaxed.

“But for sure we will be determined, committed and focused before this game against Algeria who will play for its honour. We know they haven’t got any points so far. I hope we will have a good game.”

In contrast, Algeria coach Vahid Halilhodzic said he was ‘living a nightmare’ after his side’s winless start to the tournament.

The North Africans fell to their second successive defeat on Saturday to leave them rooted to the bottom of the group and guarantee their exit from the tournament.

And with speculation about his future mounting, Halilhodzic wants his men to restore some pride in Saturday’s match against the star-studded Ivoirians.

“We are going through a tough time, we are living a nightmare. It’s a scenario nobody could have imagined,” Halilhodzic said.

“The reality is as simple as that. For our last game, we will have to fight for the honour of the team.

“People tend to say many things. I can’t deny them all the time. I’ve heard a lot of things, I have a contract. It’s more a moral contract with the federation.

“A contract in a paper doesn’t mean anything. The answer to the question, ‘Is Vahid going to continue with Algeria?’ depends on the federation and myself. We will find out.”

Tue 29 January, 2013
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