Embattled Ivory Coast goalkeeper Badra Ali Sangare is set to return for the Elephants against Algeria in their Group E decider on Thursday after telling ESPN he's fit to return to action, only three days after the death of his father.
The 35-year-old stopper made international headlines on Sunday when his astonishing late error against Sierra Leone allowed the minnows in to nab a 93rd-minute equaliser in a 2-2 draw. Sangare, who landed awkwardly after theatrically claiming a headed ball from his defenders, allowing it to squirm out of his grip, was unable to play the final minutes of the encounter after Sierra Leone's equaliser, forcing captain Serge Aurier to deputise between the sticks.
Sangare has since told ESPN that he's "doing well," and will be able to return to action for the Elephants in their decisive final group meeting with under-pressure reigning champions Algeria in Douala.
"It's very hard what [Badra] is experiencing at the moment," Elephants head coach Patrice Beaumelle said in Wednesday's pre-match news conference. "He feels responsible.
"We have all gathered around him, and I told him: 'This kind of thing happens to the great players'. In the moment [of his error], he hurt his knee, but he's undertaken all of the medical tests and we have the green light that he can play."
On Monday, only hours after Sangare's error cost the Elephants two points in their second group game, the Ivorian Federation released a statement announcing the passing of the goalkeeper's father on the same evening as his howler against the Leone Stars. It's the second loss to have hit the Ivorian camp following the death of Max-Alain Gradel's dad shortly before the start of the tournament.
Sangare was only installed as the Ivory Coast's first-choice stopper on the eve of the Nations Cup after the Elephants' original No. 1, Sylvain Gbohouo, was banned by FIFA after being found guilty of taking a prohibited substance, Trimetazidine. Earlier in the competition, Beaumelle acknowledged that he was partly responsible for Gbohouo taking the banned substance, which the keeper had taken on the advice of an optician after the head coach had advised him to seek expert opinion on his ability to see objects moving at distance.
Sangare, who plays for South African second-tier side JDR Stars, made his first international appearance in a FIFA-recognised game in 2013, but only amassed 13 appearances over the following eight years after finding himself behind Boubacar "Copa" Barry and then Gbohouo in the pecking order.
Beaumelle also revealed that he's optimistic Manchester United defender Eric Bailly and Crystal Palace forward Wilfried Zaha will be in contention to feature against Algeria, who themselves need a win to revive their miserable title defence.
"Bailly is still under the control of the medical staff after receiving a hit against Sierra Leone," Beaumelle revealed. "He has major headaches and hasn't trained in the last two days, but he's recovering well and we hope to count on him against Algeria. Zaha's done exams, nothing's alarming us about his shoulder, and he's recovering as well."
Ivory Coast, who head into the final day in top spot, will advance in the top two positions in the group if they avoid defeat against the Fennecs.