By Amakye Ansah
#6. Cote d’Ivoire 🇮🇪
Nickname: The Elephants
Last Appearance: 2019
Coach: Patrice Beaumelle (France)
Best AFCON results: winners (1992,2015)
Skipper: Serge Aurier
Player to watch: Sebastien Haller
CAF Rankings: 10
FIFA Rankings: 56
Twice, winners of the competition, both against Ghana on penalties. Ivory Coast has worldwide stars in Sebastian Haller, Wilfried Zaha, Nicholas Pepe, Frank Kessie, Eric Bailey, just to mention a few. They will be eager to impress to banish the disappointment they suffered in Qatar 2022 World Cup qualifiers.
Patrice Beaumelle knows that anything less than a semi-final place will put his job under immense threat. Expectations are always high on The Elephants due to their load of quality players and their experience in this tournament. This is the 24th time they’re participating in the competition. The second most behind Egypt’s 25.
The Elephants will hope that Sebastien Haller will transform his wonderful form in the UEFA Champions League (10 goals) to the AFCON from Ajax. Wilfred Zaha will be a thorn in every defence’s flesh.
They are undoubtedly one of the favourites to win the tournament but they flatter to deceive most at times.
The core of the team
Sylvain Gbohouo has been their undisputed number 1. He has been their main keeper since 2015. Now with Wolkite Kenema in the Betking Ethiopian Premier League, the 33-year old former TP Mazembe goalkeeper will eye another AFCON title. He was part of the team that won the 2015 edition in Equatorial Guinea.
Cote d’Ivoire has satisfactorily centre backs in Odilon Kossounou (Bayer Leverkusen), Willy Boly ( Wolverhampton Wanderers), and Eric Bailey (Manchester United) to rely on.
A lot will be expected from Frank Kessie and Ibrahim Sangare in midfield.
Maxwell Cornet, Wilfried Zaha, Nicolas Pepe and Jean Evrad Kouassi will serve as playmakers to Sebastien Haller.
Sylvain Gbohouo (GK)
Eric Bailey, Odilon Kossounou, Willy Boly (DF)
Aurier, Ibrahim Sangare, Frank Kessie
Maxwell Cornet (MD)
Zaha, Haller, Max Gradel (ATT)