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Preview: Ivory Coast vs. Sierra Leone

Following an excellent effort in their 0-0 against defending African champions Algeria, Sierra Leone has their eyes on achieving another positive result against another African power in Ivory Coast. The Ivorians won their opening Group E match against Equatorial Guinea but the Elephants were taken to the limit in a performance that was not fully convincing. However, a win against Sierra Leone will clinch a spot in the knockout stages for the Ivorians before they take on Algeria.

Ivory Coast will be welcoming captain Serge Aurier back after the Villarreal defender missed out on the Equatorial Guinea match due to suspension. In pre-match comments, Aurier mentioned his appreciation of the presence and support of Ivorian legends such as Didier Drogba in Cameroon and also stated that the Elephants are ready for battle. Manager Patrice Beaumelle was happy with the start of his team’s performance against Equatorial Guinea but is concerned about how his team failed to push on and dominate the match, a trend that has been present throughout Beaumelle’s tenure. The talent is plentiful in the Ivorian attack, but veteran winger Max Gradel continues to be the most consistent member and his winning goal in the opener came five days after he attended the funeral of his father. In one of the links below, ESPN profiles a member of the Elephants who tends to be overlooked.

The Leone Stars are embracing the underdog tag and confidence is high as they take on the opportunity of once again competing against some of Africa’s best footballers. Manager John Keister and former Sierra Leone great Mohamed Kallon expressed their confidence in the squad and continue to maintain that advancement out of Group E is the goal for the team. An excellent defensive performance was highlighted by young goalkeeper Mohamed Kamara’s Man of the Match award, and the keeper based at Freetown side East End Lions may have to surpass the seven saves he made against Algeria for his team to get a result. One member of Sierra Leone’s strong attacking line is Mustapha Bundu, and his story is profiled below in a link to The Guardian. Bundu, a graduate of the Craig Bellamy Academy, will be hoping to help his team improve on the 4-0 defeat Sierra Leone experienced last time they faced Ivory Coast at the AFCON in 1994.

Plenty of links for reading and viewing are below relating to both teams.

Elephants target back-to-back wins in Group E (SuperSport)
Match Facts – Cote d’Ivoire v Sierra Leone (CAF Online)

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