AFCON 2019 qualifier: Ivory Coast overcome stubborn Rwanda in Kigali

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Image caption Max Gradel of Ivory Coast dejected during the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations Finals match between Morocco and Ivory Coast at the Oyem Stadium in Gabon on 24 January 2017 ©Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Ivory Coast edged out Rwanda 2-1 in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualification Group H match at the Stade Régional Nyamirambo in Kigali on Sunday afternoon.

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Despite the victory, the Elephants remained third on the Group H standings, while the Wasps also remained fourth on the table.

The Wasps were desperate for a win having lost 2-1 to the Central African Republic away in their first game in the qualifying campaign in June 2017.

While the Elephants were keen to secure their first win having lost 3-2 to Guinea at home in their maiden game in Group H over a year ago.

Jean Michael Seri, who has hit the ground running at his new club, Fulham FC in England, was deployed in Ivory Coast's midfield alongside Serey Die.

The Rwanda defence was led by Belgium-based defender Salomon Nirisarike, who is on the books of First Division B club, Tubize.

The deadlock was broken on the stroke of half-time by Ivory Coast marksman Jonathan Kodja.

The Aston Villa forward beat Rwanda goalkeeper Olivier Kwizera to make it 1-0 to Ivory Coast - stunning the hosts into silence.

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The score was 1-0 to Ivory Coast during the half-time break.

Ivory Coast continued their dominance after the restart and they managed to double their lead through Max Gradel.

The Toulouse attacking midfielder beat Kwizera with a good finish to make it 2-0 to Ivory Coast four minutes into the second-half.

However, the Wasps pushed for their first goal and they managed to pull one back through Meddie Kagere.

The Ugandan-born striker beat Ivory Coast keeper Sylvain Gbohouo four minutes after the hour-mark to make it 2-1 for Rwanda.

The Wasps then pushed for a late equalizing goal with Kagere working tirelessly upfront for the home side.

However, Ivory Coast held on to their slender lead and ultimately, they ran out 2-1 winners over Rwanda.