The State of Play
After back-to-back defeats to Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea in the group stages, Jean-Louis Gasset left his role as manager and was replaced by caretaker Emerse Fae. The former Reading midfielder has overseen a dramatic penalty shootout victory over defending champions Senegal before a remarkable extra-time win against Mali. The hosts are riding a wave to the final of this tournament that many believe to be their destiny.
The Democratic Republic of Congo entered into the competition in fairly indifferent form and went through as group runners’ up despite not winning a game in the first stage. They then needed penalties to beat Egypt but did get their first victory of the tournament when they beat Guinea in the quarter-finals. They have an abundance of attacking talent and will always be a threat.
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Ivory Coast have had plenty of injury issues to deal with throughout this tournament and it could well be that Sebastian Haller finally returns to the starting line-up but they also now have suspension issues. Both Odilon Kossounou and Oumar Diakite will miss this semi-final after they were both sent off in the Ivorians’ 2-1 defeat of Mali on Saturday.
The Democratic Republic of Congo’s manager, Sebastian Desabre, has only had minor selection headaches but they have been as a result of having an abundance of options in attack, rather than injuries and suspensions. After winning 3-1 the other day, they are expected to be unchanged in this one.
Ivory Coast: Y. Fofana; Aurier, Boly, Ndicka, Konan; Seri, Kessie; Pepe, S. Fofana, Gradel; Haller
DR Congo: Mpasi; Kalulu, Mbemba, Inonga, Masuaku; Pickel, Moutoussamy; Elia, Bongonda, Wissa; Bakambu
What they Said
The aforementioned Emerse Fae has said that he is keen for Ivory Coast to continue their ‘miraculous recovery’ and said their ‘miracle against Mali did not fall out of the sky it did not just happen like that, it happened because the players kept on fighting and believing until the end.’
Desabre has hinted that DR Congo are very confident as they face the host nation with momentum, suggesting that ‘we know their weaknesses’; which is a similar thing as to what he said prior to their eventual defeat of Egypt in the Round of 16.
When and How to Watch
This match will take place at the Alassane Ouattara Stadium at 20:00 on Wednesday February 7th and will be shown live on Sky Sports. It can also be streamed live on the Sky Go app.
As soon as it became clear Ivory Coast were heading through as one of the four best third placed teams without a manager, stars began to align for one of the great stories in international football history. Ivory Coast have to be marked as favourites, especially with their home advantage, but their chaotic run and DR Congo’s aforementioned attacking depth means it still has the potential to be quite an entertaining encounter for the neutral, regardless of the end result. An Ivorian win in which both teams score seems like a good bet.