Didier Drogba of the Ivory Coast reacts during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Group G match between North Korea and Ivory Coast. Cote D'Ivoire plays Mali in the Africa Cup of Nations on February 8, 2012. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

Cote D'Ivoire Vs. Mali, 2012 Africa Cup Of Nations: Les Elephants Through To Final

Cote D'Ivoire defeated Mali in the Africa Cup of Nations semifinals and will face Zambia in the final.

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Mali Vs. Ivory Coast, 2012 Africa Cup Of Nations Semifinal: Elephants Cruise To Win

The Ivory Coast have made it to the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations final after dispatching Mali 1-0 in the semifinal. Prior to the match, the Elephants' record for the tournament read four wins from four with eight goals scored and none conceded, so it was no surprise that they came out with all guns blazing against Mali. In the first quarter of an hour, they'd managed to hit the woodwork twice via captain Didier Drogba and Manchester City star Yaya Toure, and although there was the odd moment of defensive chaos Mali were barely in the game.

Of course, a similar scenario played out in the Zambia-Ghana semifinal, where the Black Stars were eliminated after dominating the match but wasting their chances. The Ivory Coast needed a goal to ease their nerves, and they got one from an unlikely source when Gervinho ran half the length of the pitch and fired past Soumaila Diakite in emphatic style. It was the first goal for the Arsenal man all tournament, and possibly the first shot he's played that didn't make him look like a rank amateur.

Mali could have made things really interesting by pushing hard for the equaliser in the second half, but they were never really good enough to break down an organised Elephants defence, and the game turned into a rather stop-start affair. The best chances were falling to the Ivory Coast on the break, and Diakite had to be on his toes to push a near Salomon Kalou shot over in the 64th minute, but just keeping things at 1-0 wasn't enough. Mali needed a goal. They didn't get it, and the Elephants will face Zambia in the final with every expectation of raising the trophy.


Cote D'Ivoire Vs. Mali, 2012 Africa Cup Of Nations: Lineups

Cote D'Ivoire have looked untouchable thus far in the Africa Cup of Nations and are heavy favorites to defeat Mali, but they're up against a formidable opponent. Ghana's upset earlier in the day showed that no one is actually untouchable, and Mali have enough talent to defeat them. Seydou Keita looks like a top player as always, and Cheick Diabate is a monster of a man who can score with his head at any time. This could be a 4-4-2 with Keita pushed wide or a 4-2-3-1 with Mustapha Yatabare pushed wide. In any event, someone will play out of their natural position. Cote D'Ivoire has set up as expected in a 4-3-3 with Solomon Kalou and Gervinho flanking Didier Drogba.

Cote D'Ivoire Lineup (4-3-3): Barry; Tiene, Kolo Toure, Bamba, Gosso; Gosso, Tiote, Yaya Toure; Gervinho, Kalou, Drogba

Mali Lineup (4-4-2): So. Diakite; D. Diakite, Kante, Berthe, Tamboura; B. Traore, Sa. Diakite, Sow, Keita; Yatabare, Diabate

Kickoff is at 2:00 p.m. ET, 8:00 p.m. local time.

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