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AFCON 2023: Hot start guides hosts Ivory Coast to winning start against Guinea-Bissau

A packed Stade Alassane Ouattara in Abidjan witnessed a winning start to the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations for hosts Ivory Coast who did enough to ease past Group A foes Guinea-Bissau with a 2-0 victory on Saturday. Seko Fofana opened the scoring with a curled effort inside the opening five minutes and Jean-Philippe Krasso doubled the lead in the second half for Les Éléphants, who were not at their best but experienced little resistance from Os Djurtus. The hosts face Nigeria on Thursday in their highly anticipated second group match while Guinea-Bissau take on Equatorial Guinea.

The opening ceremony for the competition set a joyful beginning to the competition and Ivorian supporters did not have to wait long for a moment of class from their team. In the fourth minute high pressure from the Elephants forced a turnover by the Bissau-Guinean defense, where Franck Kessié collected and passed centrally to Fofana who got the ball on his right foot before curling a well struck shot past helpless Djurtus goalkeeper Ouparine Djoco.

Ivory Coast was expected to build on their lead but the hosts looked a bit too comfortable and content for long stretches and could have paid the price. Guinea-Bissau came close to equalizing in the 29th minute when winger Mauro Rodrigues won the ball off Ivorian central defender Evan Ndicka to send forward Mama Baldé off to the races. However the Olympique Lyonnais forward struck his shot poorly and the ball bounced tamely into the hands of Elephants keeper Yahia Fofana.

Later on in the first half Seko Fofana had a chance to double his tally but Djoco produced a brilliant save to tip the ball off the crossbar, beginning a rather subdued stretch for the heavily favorited Ivorians that extended into the second half. However just when the supporters began to express to their dissatisfaction it was Krasso who doubled the lead in the 58th minute, brilliantly taking advantage of a poor clearance from Jonathan Bamba’s cross to take the ball down and fire a bouncing effort past Djoco as he fell to the ground.

It was not a particularly impressive effort from the Ivorians, who allowed their opponents to hang around without overwhelming them as expected. Goalkeeper Yahia Fofana prevented any late anxiety for the home supporters by passing his only serious test in the 74th minute with a good reaction save from Guinea-Bissau substitute Franculino Djú following a careless turnover by Ndicka.

Highlights of the tournament opener are below.



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