AFCON 2023: Ivory Coast play Guinea-Bissau in tournament opener
The much-awaited 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) comes alive when Ivory Coast and Guinea-Bissau play in the opening game at the Alassane Ouattara Stadium on Saturday, January 13.
The Elephants will be making a bid for their third AFCON trophy after previous wins in 1992 and 2015.
The pressure mounts on the Ivorians to do well playing as the host nation and have been touted as one of the favourites to clinch the trophy.
Guinea-Bissau, on the other hand, seek group-stage progress for the first time having failed in previous attempts.
Jean-Louis Gasset’s men have group-stage history on their side, having progressed from that phase in eight of the previous nine times they have played at the continent’s flagship competition.
Ivory Coast dominated Sierra Leone in their warm-up game, winning 5-1 over the Leone Stars last weekend, as they dazzled with decisive execution in the final third.
It’s anyone’s guess whether they can carry that momentum into Saturday’s AFCON opener against Guinea-Bissau, but their goal-scoring form gives the Elephants reason to be optimistic.
Despite finishing second in their qualifying group, Baciro Cande’s side earned a stunning victory over Nigeria in the latter’s home, and they could repeat the feat against the Super Eagles at AFCON 2023 as they are in the same group.
Before that, however, is the task of facing the host nation.
However, that is easier said than done for Guinea-Bissau, which is ranked 54 places lower than Ivory Coastheading into the competition.
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