Sunderland star Lamine Kone’s Ivory Coast out of Africa

Lamine Kone walks off injured at Burnley in Sunderland's defeat at Burnley on December 31. Picture by Frank Reid
Lamine Kone walks off injured at Burnley in Sunderland's defeat at Burnley on December 31. Picture by Frank Reid
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Defending champions Ivory Coast have crashed out in the Africa Cup of Nations group stages.

The 2015 winners were beaten 1-0 by Morocco tonight, Rachid Alioui settling the contest with a stunning strike in the 64th minute.

It means that Sunderland centre-half Lamine Kone will join Gabon’s Didier Ndong in making a most unexpected early return to Wearside, and should be available for selection in the Black Cats’ next Premier League game against Tottenham next Tuesday.

Kone, however, played no part in the tournament.

It is not yet clear whether that is due to the injury he picked up in Sunderland’s defeat at Burnley on New Year’s Eve, when he collided with an advertising hoarding.

The 27-year-old watched on as coach Michel Dussuyer paired Manchester United’s Eric Bailly and Slavia Prague’s Simon Deli at the heart of the defence.

Ivory Coast mustered just two points from their group games, labouring to draws against Togo and DR Congo.

Overwhelming favourites to lift the trophy, their exit is the biggest shock of the event so far.

Kone’s earlier-than-expected return to Wearside could hand David Moyes a boost as he seeks to turnaround Sunderland’s wretched form, particularly with Papy Djilobodji likely to be handed a four-game ban for an alleged act of violent conduct during the 2-0 weekend defeat to West Brom.