The 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) finally and officially gets underway today as host nation Ivory Coast takes on low-ranked Guinea-Bissau in the opening match at the Alassane Ouattara Stadium.
The Elephants who were eliminated at the round of 16 sixteen by Egypt at the last edition held in Cameroon will be aiming to improve on their record and playing on home soil could work in the team’s favour.
The Djurtus are making their fourth consecutive AFCON appearance and have been eliminated from the group stage in the last three editions and will aim to break the jinx.
The Elephants comfortably dispatched Sierra Leone 5-1 in a friendly match and are motivated for the encounter.
The pressure is on Elephants manager Jean-Louis Gasset as the stage will be high for the 70-year-old French tactician to deliver the title.
The West African side finished second in the qualifying second after ending level with Zambia on 13 points, winning four of their six games (one loss).
Ivory Coast are two time winners, in 1992 and 2015, and they will be hoping to duplicate those winning performances.
Ivory Coast have progressed from the group stage in eight of their nine AFCON outings and they seek to boost their prospects of making it nine in with a positive result against Guinea-Bissau.
The Elephants are widely considered by many as among the team to beat, but the Djurtus of Guinea are looking to progress from the group stages for the first time in their history.
Guinea-Bissau have not won any of their opening matches at the AFCON.
Result – Cote d’Ivoire to win
Goals – Over/Under 2.5 Goals – Over 2.5 goals
At least a goal to be scored in the second half – Yes