HomeFootball NewsAFCON: Ivory Coast vs Nigeria: Preview, expected line-ups, how to watch and...

AFCON: Ivory Coast vs Nigeria: Preview, expected line-ups, how to watch and prediction

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The State of Play

Host country Ivory Coast began their challenge for the AFCON title with an impressive and comfortable defeat of Guinea-Bissau in Abidjan on Saturday afternoon. With a new and emerging group of players, the Ivorians will be expecting to go deep into this tournament and they started very well with goals coming in either half from Jean-Philippe Krasso and Seko Fofana.

Nigeria, under the management of Jose Peseiro, have an excellent squad, especially in attack, despite several pre-tournament injury issues. However, their poor form continued in their opening match as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Equatorial Guinea and they have only managed one win, a dramatic 3-2 friendly victory against Mozambique, in their last six matches.

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Team News

The biggest concern for Jean-Louis Gasset and his Ivorian side would be the fitness of right-back Wilfried Singo. The Monaco defender was substituted at half-time of their opener against Guinea-Bissau, replaced by Nottingham Forest’s Serge Aurier. Sebastian Haller also remains unavailable.

Jose Peseiro has a few issues to solve for Nigeria. He has no injury concerns with his current squad after the pre-tournament withdrawals of Wilfred Ndidi, Victor Boniface and Umar Sadiq but he is yet to find the right balance for an extremely talented group of players.

Expected Line-ups

Ivory Coast: Fofana; Aurier, Diomande, Ndicka, Konan; Kessie, Sangare, Fofana; Boga, Krasso, Bamba

Nigeria: Nwabali; Aina, Troost-Ekong, Ajayi, Sanusi; Onyeka; Simon, Aribo, Iwobi, Lookman; Osimhen

What they Said

Jean-Louis Gasset has urged his Ivorian players to ‘relish’ their meeting with Nigeria but warned against the strengths of the opposition: “Nigeria have lots of talented players. We will be facing one of the teams with the potential to win the title.”

Under pressure Jose Peseiro gave the impression of being quite cool and content after Nigeria’s underwhelming 1-1 draw with Equatorial Guinea, saying the performance will be good enough moving forward: “If we keep up this dominance we will do well. Of course I’m not happy we drew but if the other side deserved their point, then I’d be concerned.”

When and How to Watch

The game at the Alassane Ouattara Stadium will kick off at 17:00 on Thursday 18th January and will be shown live on Sky Sports in the UK. Subscribers to Sky Sports can alternately stream the game online via the ‘Sky Go’ app.

Prediction

These are, on paper, two of the ‘bigger’ and ‘better’ sides on the African continent but one of the teams could be really facing an uphill battle at the end of the match. An Ivorian victory would put Nigeria and Jose Peseiro under immense pressure with just one point from two matches and, given a steady and comfortable performance the other day, as well as their home advantage, an Ivory Coast victory would appear the likeliest outcome for this one.

Jon Fisher
Jon Fisher
Jon has over 20 years' experience in sports journalism having worked at the Press Association, Goal and Stats Perform, covering three World Cups, an Olympics and numerous other major sporting events.

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