Finest odds: 2/1
Africa Cup of Nations hosts Ivory Coast purpose to construct on their opening-day victory over Guinea-Bissau and safe a spot within the knockout levels once they face Nigeria on the Olympic Stadium of Ebimpé on Thursday.
Nigeria, coming off a 1-1 draw of their opening match towards Equatorial Guinea, might be wanting to bounce again from their disappointing begin and reignite their pursuit of continental glory.
Ivory Coast had a robust begin to the match, its thirty fourth version, with a snug 2-0 victory over Guinea-Bissau. Seko Fofana of Al Nassr opened the scoring within the first 4 minutes, and Jean-Philippe Krasso secured the win with the second purpose within the 58th minute.
Beneath the steering of coach Jean-Louis Gasset, Ivory Coast are at the moment on a seven-game undefeated streak throughout all competitions, together with 4 consecutive wins since a 1-1 pleasant draw towards South Africa in October. This profitable run additionally contains two World Cup qualifying victories, with a 9-0 overcome Seychelles and a 2-0 win towards Gambia.
Now, with sturdy momentum and the help of their residence followers, Ivory Coast goals to safe successive wins of their opening two video games on the AFCON finals for the primary time since 2013. In that 12 months, they gained towards Togo and Tunisia earlier than enjoying to a 2-2 draw with Algeria.
Apparently, Nigeria, their upcoming opponent, gained the AFCON title in 2013, ending as runners-up in Group C earlier than in the end profitable the ultimate towards Burkina Faso with a slim 1-0 victory on the First Nationwide Financial institution Stadium.
Sebastian Haller, who was absent in Ivory Coast’s opening sport final weekend, stays uncertain for Thursday’s conflict as he continues to get well from an ankle damage. Regardless of not scoring for Borussia Dortmund within the Bundesliga this season, Haller has discovered the again of the web in three of his final 4 video games for Ivory Coast since October.
In Haller’s potential absence, Jean-Philippe Krasso, who led the assault towards Guinea-Bissau, is prone to crew up with Jeremie Boga and Celta Vigo ahead Jonathan Bamba within the ahead line.
Seko Fofana, who scored the opening purpose within the 2023 AFCON with an excellent roller, is predicted to retain his function within the heart of the midfield alongside the skilled duo of Ibrahim Sangare and captain Franck Kessie.
Ousmane Diomande, who made his AFCON debut within the earlier sport, is prone to type the center-back pairing with Evan Ndicka. Wilfried Singo and Ghislain Konan are anticipated to take up the full-back roles as soon as once more.
The Tremendous Eagles face elevated stress heading into Thursday’s conflict as they had been unable to safe a profitable begin to the continental showpiece, enjoying to a 1-1 draw towards Equatorial Guinea final Saturday.
Victor Osimhen shortly equalized lower than two minutes after Iban Salvador scored towards the run of play to offer the Nzalang Nacional the lead. however the Nigerian gamers squandered a number of clear-cut probabilities, displaying a excessive stage of wastefulness in entrance of purpose. This end result provides to a regarding pattern of poor performances below Portuguese head coach Jose Peseiro, with Nigeria going 4 consecutive matches and not using a win throughout all competitions since October’s 3-2 pleasant victory over Mozambique.
Nigeria’s struggles continued within the World Cup qualifiers in November, the place they did not safe victories towards Lesotho and Zimbabwe, settling for attracts. Lesotho is at the moment ranked 148th, whereas Zimbabwe is ranked 124th within the FIFA World Rankings.
Going through Ivory Coast on Thursday, Nigeria want all three factors to keep away from the danger of a primary group-stage exit since 1982. Nonetheless, the Tremendous Eagles can have a tricky activity, as Ivory Coast is unbeaten in 37 of their final 38 group-stage video games and is at the moment on a run of 17 straight matches with out defeat within the group levels since 2012.
Nigeria can draw inspiration from their final AFCON encounter with Ivory Coast in 2013 once they secured a 2-1 victory within the quarter-finals en path to clinching the title in South Africa.
Alhassan Yusuf, who was stretchered off injured in Nigeria’s opener towards Equatorial Guinea, is a serious doubt for Thursday’s sport. If he fails to get well, Southampton’s Joe Aribo is predicted to interchange him, forming the midfield trio with Premier League duo Frank Onyeka and Alex Iwobi.
Osimhen, who opened his account within the earlier sport, is prone to spearhead Nigeria’s assault as soon as once more. He needs to be supported by Moses Simon and Ademola Lookman.
The again 4 is predicted to stay unchanged with Ola Aina, Semi Ajayi, William Troost-Ekong, and Porto full-back Zaidu Sanusi. Stanley Nwabali of Chippa United is prone to begin in purpose as soon as once more.
The arrogance of the match hosts mixed with Nigeria’s necessity to win ought to make this an attention-grabbing fixture, with objectives at each ends of the pitch, and doubtlessly nothing to separate the 2 sides on the remaining whistle.
Finest odds: 2/1