Africa Cup of Nations – Ivory Coast Preview

 

Playing squad

The goalkeeping spot appears to be a weakness, they don’t have any great options in between the sticks. At the back, Ivory Coast will be hoping that Eric Bailly delivers a strong tournament for them. But he’s been injured a lot this season and I just wonder what sort of condition he’ll be in. Lamine Kone is the likely partner in the middle, but he’s been poor for Sunderland so far this year and doesn’t come in with great form. Serge Aurier on the right hand side of defence is a top notch player and a key part of their side. Franck Kessie in defensive midfield is a promising talent and alongside Serey Sie & Jean Michel Seri, the Ivorians perhaps have a slightly underrated spine in the middle of the park.

Wilfried Zaha has decided to represent the Elephants instead of England and is included in the squad for this tournament. He’ll compete alongside the likes of Jonathan Kodjia, Giovanni Sio, Salomon and Max Gradel. The woefully out of form Wilfried Bony could also feature but he needs to get back on track after a couple of difficult years. There is still some decent talent in attack for the Ivory Coast but they don't have the star power they possessed in previous years when guys like Didier Drogba, amongst others featured in the side. Every single CIV qualifying match ended under 2.5 goals and their last three matches of 2016 ended 0-0, which suggests they certainly aren't as potent going forwards these days.

Draw and outlook

Côte D'Ivoire have landed themselves a fairly nice group. Morocco won’t be a pushover but they’d be disappointed not to at least qualify ahead of the likes of Togo and DRC. Realistically, the Ivorians should win their group and then would probably land Ghana, Mali or Egypt in the quarter finals. This isn’t a bad section of the draw for them compared to other areas where Algeria, Senegal and the host nation Gabon reside, so the Elephants can’t complain too much. I think they have the potential to be a hard side to break down and under a defensive minded coach will be difficult to beat. They are the defending champions and the bookies favourites to win the tournament. However, I don’t think they represent any value at around the 4/1 mark. Of course, it's logical that Ivory Coast contend for silverware, but there might be 2 or 3 teams who are stronger this time around.

Group prediction: 1st

Overall prediction: Semi final elimination