MALABO (Reuters) - Wilfried Bony was the main man on Sunday as Ivory Coast beat Algeria 3-1 in the African Nations Cup to set up a semi-final clash with Democratic Republic of Congo.
Ivory Coast are contesting their first international competition without former talisman Didier Drogba since the 2002 Nations Cup.
There were signs that they missed the Chelsea striker, who retired from international duty after last year's World Cup, during the group stage as they stuttered to draws against Guinea and Mali.
“If Drogba is not here it’s not because of us but because of him,” coach Herve Renard told reporters. “However if you lose Drogba and find Bony you’re doing pretty well.”
Against Algeria, Bony demonstrated that after flattering to deceive for the national side he is finally ready to take up Drogba’s mantle.
The new Manchester City signing scored two fine headers, from a Max Gradel cross and a Yaya Toure free kick, ensuring the Ivorians progressed to the semi-finals.
“Bony was the top scorer in England in 2014,” Renard added. “When you say that, you understand everything.
“Things are much easier when you have players of his and Gervinho’s quality.”
Gervinho, who scored a late third for Ivory Coast, also acknowledged that Bony’s form was helping the team forget Drogba.
“We can’t think about Drogba anymore," he said. "Bony is a different style of player he’s a player who brings us another dimension.
“He has a personality that works well with Ivory Coast he works hard for us and it suits us.”
Ivory Coast have reached the last four for the fourth time in Six Nations Cups and take on DR Congo in Bata on Wednesday. DR Congo advanced with a dramatic 4-2 victory over local rivals Congo on Saturday.
Editing by Ed Osmond