Cote d'Ivoire will seek redemption in this year's Africa Cup of Nations after a disappointing group-stage exit in 2017. Les Elephants commence their 2019 campaign against South Africa on June 24 at Al Salam stadium, Egypt.
Ibrahim Kamara's men face the depleted Bafana Bafana side, placed at the 72nd spot in the FIFA rankings, and are not expected to pose a serious challenge to a talented Ivory Coast side. There is a shadow of hope for the South Africans as Uganda pulled-off a surprising 1-0 win against the Ivorians in their last practice match.
The Moroccan team has the likes of Hakim Ziyech, Achraf Hakimi, and Medhi Benatia who will mount a serious challenge when they meet the Ivory coast in their league stage clash.
Despite Gervinho's absence from the 23-man AFCON squad, Ibrahim Kamara still has a power-packed attack at his disposal. The Elephants will rely on Nicolas Pepe and Wilfried Zaha, contributing to a combined total of 48 goals for their respective clubs Lille and Crystal Palace.
Ivory Coast will begin their Cup of Nations camp with a full squad of 23 members available for the selection.
Ibrahim Kamara will use his preferred 4-3-3 formation with Wilfried Zaha, Nicolas Pepe, and Jonathan Kodija playing through left, right, and centre respectively.
Franck Kessie will form the base of a three-man midfield system with Jean Michael-Seri and Geoffroy Serey Dié operating as free eights.
The Ivorian skipper, Serge Aurier, will lead his defenders from the right-back spot. Wonlo Coulibaly might occupy the opposite flank in the back-four. The duo of Wilfried Kanon and Ismael Traore will patrol the central area. Sylvian Gbohouo will protect the Ivory Coast's goal.
#1 Nicolas Pepe
Nicolas Pepe enjoyed a fantastic 2018/19 season for Lille, racking up 22 goals and 11 assists in the French League. Much onus will be placed on the 24-year-old to be the source of goals for the Ivory Coast.
The left-footed attacker will have the support of Wilfried Zaha and if these two develop chemistry, we are in for a carnage. Pepe is a natural goalscorer, drifting inside from the right-wing predominately to have a pop at the goal. He is capable of playing across the front-line.
#2 Franck Kessie
Kessie was deployed in a box-to-box role at AC Milan last season, complimenting the attack and shielding the defence when required. The midfielder won't be allowed much freedom in the Ivorian midfield and he will be expected to guard his back-four, using his power and tactical skills to make crucial interceptions.
Franck has the ability to drive the ball from midfield towards the final third, which will supplement the Elephant's vibrant attack.Published 17 Jun 2019, 07:04 IST