Hosts Côte d’Ivoire preparing for must-win clash against high flying Equatorial Guinea

* The Elephants must get all three points to secure automatic qualification to the knockout stages

* Guinea-Bissau hoping to upset Nigeria in their last lap of honour after losing two matches

Maravi Express

Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) Côte d’Ivoire 2023 hosts take on Equatorial Guinea in a must-win Group A encounter tonight from 19:00hrs, which is a must-win match following their 2-0 win over Guinea-Bissau and a disappointing 0-1 defeat against Nigeria.


The hosts must get all three points to secure automatic qualification to the knockout stages of the competition and anything less than a victory will result in huge disappointment for the Ivorians who have shown massive support for the host nation in their two fixtures.

Despite being favourites on paper, it will not be smooth sailing for them against a Group A topping side, Equatorial Guinea, who are high in confidence following their 1-1 opening draw against Nigeria which was followed by an emphatic 4-2 win over Guinea-Bissau.

A point will be enough for Equatorial Guinea to secure a place in the Round of 16 but Juan Micha will most likely want to cause the biggest upset of the ongoing competition by overcoming the Elephants and being the nation to knock them out of the competition they are hosting.

This will be the third meeting between the two sides in the AFCON in which Côte d’Ivoire won the first two which was a 3-0 quarterfinal win in 2012 followed by a 1-0 win in the group stages in Cameroon.


In the other group match to be played simultaneously, Guinea-Bissau are hoping to upset Nigeria as their last lap of honour after losing two matches — 0-2 by Côte d’Ivoire and 2-4 by Equatorial Guinea.

Guinea Bissau will be having their 1-0 win over the Super Eagles in Abuja for the qualifiers at the back of their minds and Baciro Condé is quoted by CAFonline as saying: “Indeed we are going to base ourselves on this match. We have analysed the game of the Super Eagles well, we hope to make a success of our exit in the absence of having had a good tournament.”

For their part, Nigeria do not want to relive the same scenario it experienced during the qualifiers against Guinea Bissau, with José Peseiro saying: “What matters is the present. We focus on the present and the future. We have confidence in ourselves. 

“We are aiming for first place which is also occupied by Equatorial Guinea and Côte d’Ivoire, it is up to us to remain vigilant,” José Peseiro explained.


Defender Kenneth Omeruo, stated their mission in Côte D’Ivoire is to win the trophy and nothing else: “Our objective is clear. Bring the cup home. It’s been a while since we added a trophy to our cabinet which is not acceptable when you’re wearing the green shirt. 

“I will not say that our defeat against them was accidental, but it does not reflect the spirit which reigns in our camp today. We are hungry for victory, it’s up to us to put everything in place to achieve our ambitions.”

In Sunday’s matches, 10-man Zambia drew 1-1 against Tanzania — a result that left coach Avram Grant very disappointed as they now badly need to beat Morocco after drawing 1-1 with DR Congo in their first match.

Zambia scored late to get a point from the game but Grant was not impressed with his team despite acknowledging how strong Tanzania were in the game. 

“It’s a disappointing result,” he told CAFonline. “We knew it wouldn’t be an easy match after watching Tanzania’s match against Morocco. It’s true that we started well too but we conceded a goal quickly and that changed our tactics especially after the red card.”

The 2015 AFCON finalist admitted playing with 10 men for the greater part of the game had an impact on them: “It’s difficult to play with 10 players. But I’m happy with the boys’ reaction. They gave everything to come back.”


The Confederation of Southern African Football Association (COSAFA) representatives have a game more to play against 2022 FIFA World Cup semi finalist and favorites, Morocco and Grant believes his team will show up and deliver against the Atlas Lions.

“We already know that Morocco is a big team but we are not afraid of them. We will play them and I hope we will put up a good performance. We will have to show character.

“That’s what we try to do every day, get better. And on all levels. Since I have been coaching this team, we have progressed in several areas but we must continue. Even when you become champion, you have to continue to improve the team.”

A late Patson Daka header rescued a 1-1 draw for the 10-man Zambia after the Taifa Stars took a deserved first-half lead through Simon Msuva’s 11th-minute strike assisted by Mbwana Samatta.

But Zambia’s task grew harder when captain Roderick Kabwe received a second yellow card just before the break to leave them a man down but despite their numerical disadvantage, Chipolopolo fought back valiantly in San-Pedro as Patson Daka went close after the restart.

And the Leicester striker finally made his mark by heading in the 88th-minute equaliser with an inch-perfect corner from Clatous Chama.

The late twist means Tanzania are still searching for an elusive first AFCON victory after eight attempts and the draw leaves the bottom of Group F ahead of their final game with DR Congo while Zambia stay third.

Zambia likely require victory over Morocco on Tuesday to progress to the knockouts after this dramatic stalemate.

South Africa were unstoppable on Sunday as they defeated fellow COSAFA representatives, Namibia 4-0 after they were humbled to a 0-2 defeat by Mali in their first game.

The Bafana Bafana started pilling up pressure from the start of the game and created chances in the early stages of the game and it yielded result with just nine minutes into the game as the ball hit the hands of a Namibian defender for a penalty.

The decision was overlooked initially but after consulting the VAR, referee Youcef Gamouh awarded the penalty and Percy Tau — who missed a crucial penalty against Mali — showed up again but got it right this time.

He gave goalkeeper Lloyd Junior Kazapua no chance as he hit the ball into the low right corner of the net in the 14th minutes to energize South Africa as they increased their tally nine minutes later.

Thapelo Morena showed great skillset after locating Themba Zwane with a pass to finish off a great team goal with a shot into the right side of the net. 

With five minutes to end of the first half, Themba Zwane made it 3-0 — this time, it was a solo effort from the forward who dribbled through the Namibian defense to score. 

Even after going up 3-0 at half time, Hugo Broos’ men continued pilling pressure in the second half that saw Thapelo Maseko adding the fourth goal after leaving goalkeeper Lloyd Junior Kazapua helpless with his effort which ended up in the net. 

South Africa will play Tunisia next in their last group game at the Amadou Gon Coulibaly Stadium in Korhogo on Wednesday, January 24 with hopes of qualifying.—Info from CAFonline