Tuesday Jan 11, 2022. 14:00
Equatorial Guinea will look for an upset in their Africa Cup of Nations Group E opener when they face the Ivory Coast at the Japoma Stadium in Douala on the evening of Wednesday 12 January 2022, kick-off at 21:00 CAT.
Equatorial Guinea are making a return to the continental tournament for the first time since their surprise semifinal appearance in 2015 (when they were hosts). Their only other AFCON appearance was as co-hosts (with Gabon) in 2012 when they got as far as the quarterfinals.
Nzalang Nacional coach’s Juan Micha is ready for the challenge of a first tournament away from home, and readily admits the challenge which awaits them in their opening game against the Ivory Coast.
“All the matches will be very important for us,” explained Micha. “We will take them all very seriously. This is the first time that Nzalang Nacional will play an African Cup of Nations away from their facilities and their fans. It will be a great experience for us. We know Côte d’Ivoire well. It won’t be a surprise for us. They are a very strong team.”
Ivory Coast, meanwhile, are two-time AFCON champions (most recently in 2015) and come to Cameroon as title contenders.
At the 2019 finals in Egypt two and a half years ago they looked like potential tournament winners, but were eliminated (only on penalties) by eventual champions Algeria in the quarterfinals.
Led by coach Patrice Beaumelle (who was assistant to Herve Renard for the Ivory Coast’s 2015 AFCON success), the Elephants are amongst the favourites for this tournament but will need to make a statement of intent from early on.
In head-to-head stats, Equatorial Guinea and Ivory Coast have met in two matches across all competitions since 2012, with the Elephant claiming one win compared to zero for Nzalang Nacional, while one game has been drawn.
The teams last met in an international friendly in March 2015 in Abidjan, with the clash ending 1-1 after goals from Max Gradel and Iban Salvador.