Ivory Coast and South Africa will open their 2019 Africa Cup on Nations accounts on Monday at the Al-Salam Stadium in Cairo.
Ivory Coast have won the tournament on two occasions, most recently in 2015. South Africa’s single AFCON triumph came in 1996, when they hosted the tournament.
Both team’s form leading up to the tournament has been good. Since the beginning of 2018, South Africa have played 15 games and only lost twice. In the same time, Ivory Coast played 13 matches and were unbeaten in 10.
Ivory Coast surprisingly lost to Uganda in their previous match. This wasn’t ideal preparation and head coach Ibrahim Kamara will be hoping this isn’t a sign of things to come with the tournament just days away.
Uganda sit 18 places below Ivory Coast in the FIFA World Rankings but held on to clinch a 1-0 victory, without Ivory Coast registering a single shot on target.
South Africa’s last match was a 0-0 draw with one of the tournament favorites, Ghana. Head coach Stuart Baxter made 11 substitutions at half-time as he took full advantage of the friendly match to get a decent look at his squad.
In comparison with previous years, South Africa do not possess any household names in their squad. Of their 23-man squad, only 6 players ply their trade with clubs from outside of their home country.
On the other hand, Ivory Coast’s squad contains a number of high-profile players. Wilfried Zaha, Jonathan Kodjia and Serge Aurier all play for clubs in the English Premier League and a large portion of their squad is made of players from the French top tier, Ligue 1.
The head-to-head record between these two teams doesn’t look great for Ivory Coast. In the 6 meetings between the countries over the years, 4 draws have been recorded, with South Africa winning the other 2 matches.
In their most recent meeting, South Africa came away with a 2-0 friendly victory in 2014. Ivory Coast are favorites to win on Monday but will be wary of South Africa’s superior record against them.
Despite their head-to-head record, Ivory Coast should have too much quality for South Africa. Ivory Coast will be keen to not only claim their first ever victory over this particular opponent, but also get their 2019 Africa Cup on Nations off to a winning start.
PREDICTION : 2-1 Ivory Coast
ACCUMULATOR TIP : IVORY COAST WIN OR DRAW @ 1.33 @ FORTUNEBETS