Cote d'Ivoire Advance to AFCON Semifinals, Tiote's Absence Lengthened

NELSPRUIT, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 25: Didier Drogba of the Ivory Coast reacts during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Group G match between North Korea and Ivory Coast at the Mbombela Stadium on June 25, 2010 in Nelspruit, South Africa. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Cote d'Ivoire defeated co-hosts Equatorial Guinea 3-0 in the quarterfinal stage of the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations Saturday on the strength of two goals from Chelsea forward Didier Drogba and one from Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure. Up next for them is a semifinal match with the winner of Gabon-Mali, which will be contested on Sunday.

The Ivorians' advancement to the next round means that Cheik Tiote, who did not feature in the victory, will remain in Africa through the end of the tournament (since even a defeat in the semifinals means a berth in the third place game). Tiote will miss Sunday's fixture with Aston Villa and is now guaranteed to skip the February 11 tie with Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane. He, along with midfield partner Yohan Cabaye, who is currently serving a suspension for violent conduct, will return for a home match with Wolverhampton Wanderers on February 25. All told, by the time Tiote returns, he will have missed 7 consecutive matches for the second time this season (the first due to knee injury).

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