MALABO, Equatorial Guinea – Ivory Coast says Salomon Kalou’s left hamstring injury is not serious, although the Chelsea striker sat out Friday’s training at the African Cup of Nations.
Team spokesman Eric Kakou said Kalou was undergoing further tests but would be available for Ivory Coast’s final Group B game against Angola.
Tournament favourite Ivory Coast has already qualified for the quarterfinals, while Angola is in pole position to follow the Ivorians into the last eight.
Angola needs a point on Monday to be certain of its progress. A draw would also ensure Ivory Coast finishes as group winner.
Kalou pulled up with the hamstring problem with around 25 minutes to go of Thursday’s 2-0 win over Burkina Faso after scoring the opening goal.
Ivory Coast played a practice match against a local Equatorial Guinea team on Friday to give playing time to a number of squad members who have seen little or no action in the tournament so far.
Ivory Coast coach Francois Zahoui is expected to rotate his squad for the final group match. The likes of Didier Drogba and Cheick Tiote watched the practice match from the bench.
The team was led by Galatasaray defender Emmanuel Eboue, who acknowledged the African Cup favourite had not yet hit top gear despite two opening wins
“We are working very hard because this year we want to do our best to bring the cup back to our country,” Eboue said. “We just want to win. We don’t play very good (so far) but we always believe in ourselves.”
The practice match was played in a small municipal stadium in Malabo, on a bumpy pitch and with fans allowed in free to watch. A bustling market selling fruit, clothes, shoes and tournament souvenirs was doing good business until the team coach arrived under a police escort and attracted customers away from the stalls.
It’s a world away from big European stadiums featuring tight security and expensive entry tickets where most of the Ivory Coast players usually perform.
“We know it’s very difficult to leave our clubs and come here to play but it’s for our country,” Eboue said. “It’s very different but we are happy to come out here to play for our country.”