CABINDA, Angola (AFP) – A shock-filled start to the Africa Cup of Nations continued on Monday as title favourites Ivory Coast were held 0-0 by Burkina Faso in the opening Group B match.
Hosts Angola sensationally surrendered a four-goal lead when drawing with Mali in the tournament opener on Sunday and 24 hours later Malawi rocked 2010 World Cup qualifiers Algeria 3-0 in another Group A clash.
An Ivorian team featuring Europe-based stars like Kolo Toure, younger brother Yaya and Didier Drogba dominated possession throughout, but created few clearcut chances and looked far from potential champions.
Burkina Faso set out a defensive stall and contained their opponents with relative comfort to keep alive hopes of finishing among the top two in a mini-league completed by Ghana and qualifying for the quarter-finals.
Players stood silently before the kick-off to honour two Togolese fatalities of an ambush in this restive enclave last Friday while police, soldiers and special forces cast a ring of steel around a complex housing the teams.
Togo, whose delegation flew home on Sunday, were officially disqualified from the tournament when they failed to appear for an 1830GMT fixture against Ghana, scheduled to be the second half of a Cabinda double-header.
"It was a difficult start. After what happened a few days ago, it was hard to concentrate. We do not forget what happened to Togo, but now the competition has started and we try to focus on the games," said Drogba.
Burkina Faso Portugal-born coach Paulo Duarte confessed: "We were not good in the first half and did not create any scoring chances. It was better after the break for us."
Ivory Coast dominated the first half before a sparse crowd at the new 20,000-seat Chiazi Stadium with virtually the entire Burkina Faso team retreating behind the ball at the slightest hint of danger.
The respect the Stallions accorded the Elephants in this west African derby was understandable after losing 3-2 at home and 5-0 away when the neighbours clashed in qualifiers for this tournament.