AFCON 2023: Jitters in Abidjan as hosts Ivory Coast face defending champions Senegal in last sixteen


AFCON 2023: Jitters in Abidjan as hosts Ivory Coast face defending champions Senegal in last sixteen

Festus Chuma 12:00 - 29.01.2024

Ivory Coast hosts Senegal in a critical AFCON Round of 16 match with both teams vying for a quarterfinal spot.

Defending champions Senegal are gearing up for a monumental clash against host nation Ivory Coast in a highly anticipated Round of 16 match at the Charles Konan Bani Stadium, Yamoussoukro.

This encounter, set for Monday, 29 January is not just a game but a showcase of African football's finest talents in the 2023 Africa Cup of Natios.

Senegal entered this stage unbeaten having won three of their matches to finish on top of Group C.

Alliou Cisse, the coach of the Lions of Teranga, who was taken to the hospital at one point during the tournament, has reflected on their journey in this year's tournament.

“Our team is going through a good period after three matches, where we achieved good results in the group stage, and I am satisfied with it," he said as per CAF Online.

"We are now in the eighth final, against a good Côte d'Ivoire team. We will play a very difficult match. If we win, we will continue the adventure, and if we lose, we will return home."

Ivory Coast despite a rocky path in the group stages, are determined to turn their fortunes around.

The Elephants progressed with a mere three points as one of the best third-placed teams, yet their ambition remains undiminished.

Ivory Coast are under the guidance of former international Faye Emers, who played alongside Didier Drogba in the Ivorian team that lost the 2006 AFCON final to Egypt.

“We prepared well for the Senegal match, and we will enter the match with a lot of confidence. The players are motivated. Côte d'Ivoire will remain Côte d'Ivoire even though we did not perform well in the group stage," he said .

This match represents not only a quest for a quarterfinal berth but also a profound test of resilience and strategic acumen.

Senegal's Pape Gueye is a doubt due to injury, and the absence of Abdallah Sima is a blow to their campaign.

Ivory Coast, not without their challenges, are likely to miss the services of Sebastian Haller.

However, both teams boast depth and talent, with Lamine Camara being Senegal’s top scorer in the tournament and Seko Fofana's consistent performances for Ivory Coast, including a Man of the Match accolade against Guinea-Bissau.

Historically, the Elephants have the edge with 14 wins in 25 encounters against the Lions of Teranga, who have claimed 8 victories.

Yet, recent form suggests a different story. Senegal is riding a wave of confidence, having secured wins against the Gambia, Cameroon, and a convincing victory over Senegal in Group C.

In contrast, Ivory Coast is under pressure to redeem themselves after a 1-0 loss to Nigeria and a 4-0 defeat at the hands of Equatorial Guinea.

Senegal, under Cisse's guidance, has shown a blend of robust defense and swift counter-attacking football.

The potential absence of key players might force them to tweak their approach, but with Sadio Mane's prowess, they remain a formidable force.

Ivory Coast, on the other hand, needs to find a way to unlock their attacking potential. Jean-Philippe Krasso, who scored against Guinea-Bissau could be crucial in this regard. 

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