Ivory Coast have won a single game more (W3, L2, D2) in their past seven Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) meetings with Algeria and this highlights how closely the two teams sit ahead of their quarter-final showdown at the 2019 championship in Egypt on Thursday.
The coming match presents The Elephants a good opportunity to win back some respect and sound a caution about their title ambitions at the tournament following a run of unimpressive shows so far despite securing three wins.
For Algeria, the mission to win Afcon one more time after 29 years continues; a win over Ivory Coast will only bring the dream closer.
The match is set for the Suez Stadium.
|Ivory Coast v Algeria|
|Date||Thursday, July 11|
Squads & Team News
Captain Serge Aurier still remains a doubt for Thursday’s game after picking up an injury in the second group match against Morocco. KV Mechelen defender Mamadou Bagayoko is likely to start in the Tottenham Hotspur man’s stead.
After being overlooked for a starting place in the opening two games of the tournament, Crystal Palace attacker Wilfried Zaha made the most of his first start against Namibia by scoring in the game. After going on to score the solitary winner in the Round of 16 win over Mali, he is expected to keep his starting spot against Algeria.
The likes of Franck Kessie, Nicolas Pepe and Jean Michael Seri are also expected to make the starting team.
Refreshingly for Morocco coach Djamel Belmadi, he has no major injury worries ahead of the all-important clash.
Captain and talisman Riyad Mahrez is expected to lead the team out as usual, with the likes of Ismael Bennacer, Sofiane Feghouli and Youcef Belaili all set to provide midfield support for lone striker Baghdad Bounedjah.
Defensive midfielder Guedioura is one booking away from suspension.
In seven Afcon meetings between Ivory Coast and Algeria, the former have won three times to the latter’s two, with the two other games ending in draws. This should give The Elephants optimism going into Thursday’s tie.
Also, Ivory Coast’s more familiarity with the quarter-final stage of Afcon should serve them well as they will be playing in the phase for the 10th time – against Algeria’s six.
With Zaha’s form of having netted in his last two games, the west Africans have a strong scoring threat too.
But if Kamara is excited by the Palace man’s form, then he has every reason to be more worried by the sharpness of Algeria’s Adam Ounas whose three goals so far place him as the joint-top scorer of the competition. Interestingly though, media attention on the Foxes has focused more on their Manchester City superstar Mahrez.
"Algeria is a great team. They do not play only with Riyad Mahrez,” Kamara said to reporters in Egypt .
“If so, the other players would stay in the locker room. We will face a team that's difficult to handle.”
Belmadi, meanwhile, is focusing more on his team: “I don’t want to look at the opponents too much, I want to look at what we can do to keep improving. We want to be ready for the match each time, study our opponents, do the maximum and what is necessary. We will do everything we need to do to get to the end.”
Algeria’s strength is not only in attack but also in defence as they are yet to let in a goal at the championship.
The Foxes will also take inspiration from fellow north African side Morocco who beat The Elephants 1-0 during the group stage.