- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 21, 2015

MALABO, Equatorial Guinea (AP) - Ivory Coast forward Gervinho was given a two-match suspension on Wednesday, ruling him out of the rest of the group stage at this year’s African Cup of Nations.

The loss of Gervinho, who had been the team’s livliest player against Guinea on Tuesday until he was given a straight red card in the 57th minute, will hurt the Ivory Coast’s chances of advancing from a tough Group D.

The African football federation’s disciplinary panel decided the sanction on Wednesday in Bata, the site of the final on Feb. 8.

Despite playing with 10 men for much of the second half against Guinea, the Ivorians were able to equalize and earn a 1-1 draw at Malabo Stadium. Cameroon and Mali also drew 1-1, leaving all four teams with one point each after the first set of group matches.

Gervinho, who plays for Roma, was sent off after hitting Guinea midfielder Naby Keita in the face. Ivory Coast coach Herve Renard then made some tactical changes, including bringing on forward Seydou Doumbia.

The changes worked, with Doumbia scoring the equalizer in the 72nd minute, six minutes after coming on.

“With 10 men it was very hard,” said Renard, who led Zambia to the African Cup title in 2012. “The players did very well in the different organization.”

One of the favorites at this year’s tournament despite playing without Didier Drogba, Ivory Coast still has to play Mali and Cameroon in Group D.

Earlier Wednesday, Gervinho apologized for his actions. He wrote on Twitter that he wanted to say sorry to his country, his teammates, fans and tournament organizers for his “angry gesture.”

The reaction was “not like me and has no place on the football field,” Gervinho wrote in French.

After he was shown the red card, Gervinho dropped to his knees on the field, punched the turf in frustration and began arguing with the referee.

If the Ivory Coast advances, Gervinho would next be eligible to play in the quarterfinals on Feb. 1.

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