The 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) kicked off on Saturday evening at the Alassane Ouattara Stadium in Abidjan, as host nation Ivory Coast faced Guinea-Bissau.
The curtain raiser is the primary talking point in this edition of our daily column, but we’ll also look forward to today’s fixtures with more AFCON action in the pipeline.
Group A: Ivory Coast 2-0 Guinea-Bissau
Ivory Coast opened the 2023 AFCON with a comprehensive 2-0 victory over Guinea-Bissau, who are still searching for their first group stage win in the competition since 2017.
Despite being handed a tough group, the hosts are fancied to reach the knockout stage, and they laid down the marker with a comprehensive performance in front of a raucous home support.
They were dominant in the opening period against the African Wild Dogs and only needed four minutes to take the lead as Seko Fofana rifled home an effort from the edge of the box to send the crowd into raptures.
The Elephants had numerous opportunities to kill the game before the interval, but their wastefulness in the final third threatened to undo all their first-half endeavours.
Jean-Louis Gasset’s side maintained their dominance in the second half and finally got their second before the hour mark thanks to a clever volleyed finish from Jean-Philippe Krasso.
After a rusty start, Guinea-Bissau grew into the game but rarely threatened. They did enough to craft one big chance in the second half, but Yahia Fofana made an important stop to ensure a clean sheet.
The Wild Dogs were second best on all counts, and considering the calibre of opponents that awaits, they’ll need to step it up to prove they deserve a place on the big stage.
As for Ivory Coast, after failing to reach the semi-final since their 2015 triumph, they’ll be hoping to go all the way this year with the crowd on their side.
Today’s AFCON fixtures
Nigeria vs Equatorial Guinea – 2:00 pm (GMT)
Group A action continues this afternoon, with Nigeria taking on Equatorial Guinea at the Alassane Ouattara Stadium.
The Super Eagles may be one of the continent’s powerhouses, but they have consistently underperformed at the AFCON and will be eager to end a decade-long wait for the title this year.
Egypt vs Mozambique – 5:00 pm (GMT)
Group B action also kicks off later today, with Egypt – the most successful nation in the competition’s history – taking on Mozambique at the Felix Houphouet Boigny Stadium.
The seven-time AFCON winners are looking to put the horrors of the 2021 final behind them as they charge for an eighth title that would solidify their position as continental superpowers.
Ghana vs Cape Verde – 8:00 pm (GMT)
Ghana and Cape Verde will trade tackles in the other Group B fixture on Sunday evening.
The Black Stars are one the favourites to qualify from the group and will fancy their chances of starting their campaign with a win.
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