Ten-man Ivory Coast stutter to Africa Cup of Nations draw with Guinea

    Story highlights

    • Ivory Coast many people's favorites for trophy
    • Guinea took first-half lead through Mohamed Yattara volley
    • Gervinho sent off just before hour mark
    • Seydou Doumbia hits equalizer with just under 20 minutes remaining

    (CNN)Again, so much expectation -- but again, not so much on show to live up to it.

    Ivory Coast came into their opening game of the Africa Cup of Nations as many people's tip for the title, but began the tournament in a fashion suggesting that expectation was again not sitting easily with them.
      The contest against Guinea, whose players have spoken of their determination to do well for a country devastated by the Ebola virus, showed the familiar frailties that have hindered an Ivory Coast team boasting star names such as Yaya Toure, Wilfried Bony and Gervinho.
      A lack of cohesion was apparent in both defense and attack, and a Guinea team that scored six goals in their final two qualifying matches -- played in Morocco because of the crisis -- took advantage in style.
      Mohamed Yattara thrashed in a stunning volley to open the scoring after 36 minutes of a first half in which the vast bulk of the energetic football came from the underdogs.
      Just before the hour mark, a bad situation for the Ivorians seemed likely to become worse when Gervinho -- who had shown more purpose than most of his teammates before the break -- was sent off for needlessly lashing out at Naby Keita.
      Seydou Doumbia came to the rescue when he rounded off a well-worked move to equalize after 72 minutes, steering his shot into the bottom corner after Bony's neat control and layoff.
      But there were more questions than answers for coach Herve Renard, who took over from Sabri Lamouchi after the team's failure to make it through the group stages of last summer's World Cup in Brazil, after this 1-1 draw.
      Renard is the latest man to attempt to end Ivory Coast's long wait for another African Cup of Nations success -- the most recent of those came in 1992.
      He showed that he was unafraid to make bold changes when he brought off Toure with five minutes remaining, with the Manchester City star looking decidedly unimpressed as he made way for Cheick Doukoure.
      Ivory Coast produced some of their better football when down to 10 men, but again they were less than the sum of their parts.
      With challenges against Cameroon and Mali waiting in the wings, Renard will be keen to see them harness their full potential sooner rather than later. The Frenchman is by no means the first coach of this squad to be left puzzling over just how to achieve that.