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Preview: Ivory Coast v Guinea-Bissau

The 2023 Africa Cup of Nations kicks off on Saturday with one match featuring hosts Ivory Coast against heavy underdogs Guinea-Bissau as Group A play gets underway. Below we go into detail on what to expect from both teams:

The Stade Alassane Ouattara will be filled to capacity for the hosts and Les Éléphants are eager to reward their supporters with a convincing victory in Abidjan. Ivory Coast completed their preparations with a dominant 5-1 victory over Sierra Leone last Sunday and it appears that head coach Jean-Louis Gasset has his team in good form.

In the defense the Ivorians will be led by in form defender Evan Ndicka and the AS Roma player should partner with either talented young defender Ousmane Diomandé or Nottingham Forest veteran Willy Boly. Captain Serge Aurier and Ghislain Konan look set to be the full backs with Aurier on the right flank and Konan on the left. Both fullbacks will attempt to get forward often to overwhelm the defense of Guinea-Bissau. Seko Fofana, Franck Kessié and Ibrahim Sangaré will form a dynamic trio in the midfield that has a firm claim to being the best midfield in Africa with contributions on both the defense and the attack.

Coach Gasset revealed that striker Sébastien Haller and another forward, Simon Adingra of English club Brighton & Hove Albion, will be unavailable for the opener due to injury. There is speculation that the attack from the dominant exhibition victory over Sierra Leone will feature on Saturday. Jean-Philippe Krasso and Red Bull Salzburg starlet Karim Konaté are the candidates to lead the attacking line while Jonathan Bamba and Jérémie Boga were the attackers on the wing. Boga in particular impressed the Ivorian media against Sierra Leone but we may also see Christian Kouamé, Oumar Diakité, veteran Max Gradel and Nicolas Pépé.

As for Guinea-Bissau, Os Djurtus are facing heavy odds against them as well as a deafening support for the home side. Head coach Baciro Candé expressed confidence in his players to put up firm resistance against The Elephants and the coach has plenty of experience leading his team as the underdogs. Guinea-Bissau have never progressed beyond the group stage in three appearances but this is the most talented selection the country has brought to the AFCON.

There are apparently no injury concerns for Os Djurtus who are coming off a lopsided 6-2 defeat to Mali in their final preparation match. Ouparine Djoco played at the goalkeeper position but could be replaced by veteran Jonas Mendes who has played in nearly every AFCON match Guinea-Bissau have participated in. Opa Sangante, based in France’s Ligue 2, will lead the defense from his central position with Fali Candé on the left flank and either Egyptian-based Jefferson Encada or Nanú at right back.

Janio Bikel, Dálcio and Alfa Semedo are experienced central midfielders who provide plenty of defensive stability while Moreto Cassamá is a more technical option who can contribute moving forward. The attack will be led by dynamic left winger Carlos Mané who scored one of the two goals against Mali and the former participant for Portugal at the 2016 Olympics is an excellent dribbler who adds needed quality to the Djurtus attack. Mama Baldé is a versatile forward who will compete with towering target forward Zinho Gano for a spot up top with Gano, like Mané, a dual national who was recently brought in to strengthen the goal scoring capability of the attack.

More on the match from African and international media is in the links below.

AFCON 2023: Guinea-Bissau Challenge Host Ivory Coast (beIN Sports)
2023 : GIV-GNB : Les compos probables (Sport-Ivoire)

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