Hosts Cote d’Ivoire open AFCON campaign with solid 2-0 win over Guinea-Bissau

* Wasted no time asserting dominance by taking the lead after just four minutes through Seko Fofana

* Deservedly extended their advantage just before the hour mark through substitute Jean-Philippe Krasso

Maravi Express

Hosts Côte d’Ivoire began their CAF Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) campaign in style by beating Guinea-Bissau 2-0 in Saturday night’s opening match in Abidjan.


The Elephants wasted no time asserting dominance on home soil, taking the lead after just four minutes through Seko Fofana when the Lens midfielder pounced on a loose ball outside the box and unleashed a superb strike beyond goalkeeper Jonas Mendes.

Fofana almost grabbed a second but saw his powerful effort cannon off the crossbar on 35 minutes as Côte d’Ivoire ended the first half on top.

Guinea-Bissau posed an occasional threat on the counter but the Ivorians remained firmly in control after the break, who deservedly extended their advantage just before the hour mark when substitute Jean-Philippe Krasso acrobatically fired home after great work from Jonathan Bamba.

Krasso’s clinical finish put the result beyond doubt as Côte d’Ivoire confidently saw out victory in their tournament opener as the Elephants face a sterner test in their next Group A match against three-time champions Nigeria on Wednesday.


But on the evidence of this composed performance, Côte d’Ivoire have the quality in depth to target long-awaited continental glory on home soil — relying on the likes of Fofana, and in-form striker Sebastien Haller.

Based on this opening display, that array of talent could take Côte d’Ivoire all the way to the AFCON 2023 crown.

An electric opening ceremony kicked off the AFCON Côte d’Ivoire 2023 in thrilling style that saw a capacity 60,000 crowd at the Alassane Ouattara Olympic Stadium soaked up the colours and culture.

The celebration featured singers, acrobats and dancers in a vibrant showcase of Ivorian tradition and African unity as fireworks in the Ivorian national colours lit up the Abidjan sky at the end of the ceremony to launch Africa’s biggest football party in spectacular fashion. 

Meanwhile, Ghana begin their quest for their 5th AFCON  title when they play Cape Verde in their Group B today as the two are facing each other for the second time at the competition. Their only previous meeting saw Ghana win 2-0 in the quarter-finals of the 2013 edition.

This is Ghana’s 24th AFCON appearance with Egypt at 26 and Côte d’Ivoire 25 and the Black Stars won the title in four of their first seven appearances (1963, 1965, 1978, 1982) but have won none of their subsequent 16. 

Ghana have won only one of their last nine matches at the finals (D4 L4), a 2-0 group stage victory against Guinea-Bissau in 2019 and they were knocked out in the group stages of the last AFCON.

The Black Stars

This is Cape Verde’s 4th appearance with all four taking place since 2013 and six of their 11 matches have ended in a draw, with their two wins taking place against Angola in 2013 (2-1) and Ethiopia in 2022 (1-0), both in the group stages.

Cape Verde have qualified from the AFCON group stages on two previous occasions (2013, 2021) but have never won a game in the knockout phase of the competition. They have lost only one of their nine group matches (W2 D6), it was against Burkina Faso in January 2022 (0-1).

Cape Verde have never lost their opening match and only one of their 11 previous games has produced more than two goals and their eight goals in the qualifiers for this year’s AFCON were all scored by eight different players.

Mohammed Kudus was directly involved in 50% of Ghana’s goals in the qualifiers for this year’s tournament, scoring three times and assisting one (4/8).

If he plays, this will be André Ayew’s eighth AFCON, which will equal the record held by Cameroon’s Rigobert Song and Egypt’s Ahmed Hassan — and if he scores, he will set a new record of having found the net in seven different AFCON tournaments.—Info from CAFonline