Contributing to the low-scoring trend at this African Cup of Nations (AFCON) so far, Ivory Coast opened their campaign by securing a 1-0 win over Equatorial Guinea. The 2015 champions will be looking to get past the group stages for the eighth time in their last nine attempts, but after going winless in their second group game in the last three editions (D2, L1), a continuation of that trend could throw a spanner in the works.
The ‘Elephants’ will be looking to stampede through the continent’s showpiece tournament, although their only loss in the last 13 fixtures (W9, D3) resulted in them losing out on qualifying for the upcoming World Cup. A date with Sierra Leone can help the Ivorians forget that heartbreak as they’ve never lost to their West African counterparts in competitive action (W5, D2), keeping a clean sheet on four occasions.
Sierra Leone began their tournament by holding defending champions Algeria to a 0-0 draw in a heroic display of heart, with goalkeeper Mohamed Kamara going viral after bursting into tears after receiving his man of the match award. However, it’s still just one win in the last 14 internationals for John Keister’s men (D6, L7), albeit that solitary victory came in AFCON qualifying and secured their place at this tournament.
With their matchday one draw being the fifth time in six AFCON group games that the ‘Leone Stars’ have failed to score, finding the net has become Sierra Leone’s Achilles heel. Failing to score in 12 of their last 20 fixtures shows the extent of those troubles, as does scoring only three goals across seven H2Hs.
Players to watch: Ivorian dangerman Sébastien Haller has scored his side’s opener in ten of his 16 goalscoring outings for club and country this season, while Sierra Leone’s Alhaji Kamara has seen six of his last nine club goals arrive before half-time.
Hot stat: Ivory Coast have seen the same half-time/full-time result in nine of their last 11 fixtures.