AFCON 2023 – Yahia Fofana: Côte d’Ivoire’s future number 1 goalkeeper – At a glance

In their search for the rare pearl of a goalkeeper for the Elephants, Ivorian Football Federation officials are considering Yahia Fofana, a young goalkeeper from SCO d’Angers in France’s Ligue 2.

Côte d’Ivoire has been “hurting” in goal for several years now. Since the retirement of Gouamené Alain and Tizié Jean-Jacques, only Copa Barry, trained at Asec and polished up at Rennes, was really unanimous towards the end of his career (2012-2015). Gbohouo Sylvain took over from him and brought what he could to the country from January 2015 to December 2021.

Côte d’Ivoire is about to host the CAN on home soil. It is looking for an iron-gloved keeper. Sangaré Badra, who was number one when Gbohouo was suspended for doping (January 2022-June 2023), is not a unanimous favourite, nor are Tapé Ira and Folly Ayayi, who conceded 3 goals including a gag against Zambia on day 5 of the AFCON 2023 qualifiers.

Yahia Fofana in pole, Restes also under scrutiny

FIF is considering Yahia Fofana, the 22-year-old goalkeeper inducted as number 1 at Angers (France). He trained at Le Havre AC and has all the fundamentals and rudiments of a world-class keeper. Alongside him, there’s even Guillaume Restes, also number 1 at Toulouse (France), waiting for the call from his mother’s homeland. But it’s with Fofana that contacts are really advanced. Federal officials intend to induct the 22-year-old keeper, who excelled at Le Havre, where he honed his skills, into the Elephants’ goalkeeping ranks before signing for Angers last season.

At Angevins, the Franco-Ivorian was a regular starter before suffering an injury and making way for Bernadoni due to a meniscus operation. All that is now behind the sturdy lad (1.94m, 84kg), on whom his managers are counting for this season. A product of French training, Yahia Fofana is the prototype of the modern goalkeeper, with excellent footwork, confidence on the goal-line and an incredible sense of anticipation. Assets that some of his future national team rivals lack.

“You can’t triumph at the CAN without a good goalkeeper”.”
The FIF president is thinking about this eventuality. For him, no selection triumphs or has a good campaign without a good goalkeeper. Recently, we saw Algeria and Senegal at the African Cup of Nations with Raïs M’Bolhi at AFCON 2019 and Édouard Mendy at AFCON 2021 respectively. We saw Morocco’s prowess at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar with Yassine Bounou. What can we say about Côte d’Ivoire, who won their two African trophies at a time when their goalkeepers, Alain Gouamené in 1992 and the Copa Barry-Gbohouo Sylvain duo in 2015, were in top form?” blows a member of the FIF executive committee. So, from now on, the other goalkeepers will be fighting for the number 2 spot, as Fofana arrives to be the number one. We’ll already have some clear clues in less than a month’s time, with the list for the September 2023 window, for which Idriss Diallo has asked Jean-Louis Gasset for a hyper-conquering squad.

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