PREVIEW: Cote d’Ivoire vs. Guinea
The Cote d’Ivoire and Guinea will face off in the first Group D AFCON game of 2015 at the Estadio de Malabo from 16.00 GMT on Tuesday afternoon.
The 2013 finalists Cote d’Ivoire may have lost their place recently as the top-ranked African team in the FIFA World Rankings but they have arrived to the Africa Cup of Nations to put the record straight with a squad that is arguably the best in the competition.
Premier League-based players such as Kolo and Yaya Toure, new Manchester City striker Wilfried Bony and AS Roma forward Gervinho gives Herve Renard plenty of talent to work with.
Renard’s two warm up games for the competition have seen Les Elephants win one and lose one, with the latest being a 2-0 defeat to Sweden, but they approach Tuesday’s game as clear favourites and will be hoping to get their campaign off to a flying start.
Guinea are the wild outsiders for the tournament and they have played just one international friendly leading up to the tournament, losing to Senegal in a heavy 5-2 defeat.
29-year-old defender Kamil Zayatte is likely to miss Guinea’s opening game through a leg injury, whilst Yaya Toure failed to train for Les Elephants earlier this week but he is likely to play some part.
Herve Renard has been discussing his side’s current ability and claims that his team need to gel more if they are to win the competition.
“We are always one of the most fancied teams but a lot of things have changed from previous years,” he told reporters in his pre-match press conference, via BBC Sport.
“The squad is a lot younger now and if you base it on our qualifying campaign I don’t think we can be labelled one of the favourites.
“When a team comes up against the Ivory Coast they know what that means – three consecutive World Cups, players who play for the very biggest clubs.
“But we need to find greater collective cohesion if we want to achieve anything.”
by Ben Crump