2023 AFCON: Cote d’Ivoire v DR Congo preview

2023 AFCON: Cote d’Ivoire v DR Congo preview
Jean Thierry Lazare of Cote dIvoire celebrates victory during the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations match between Mali and Ivory Coast held at Peace Stadium in Bouake, Cote DIvoire on 03 February 2024 ©Weam Mostafa/BackpagePix

by Thando Mpembe

Tuesday Feb 06, 2024. 14:00

The 2023 Africa Cup of Nations will continue with a semifinal match between DR Congo and Cote d’Ivoire at the Alassane Ouattara Stadium in Abidjan.

Date: Wednesday 7 February 2024

Kick-off: 22h00 CAT

Head-to-head: Cote d’Ivoire and DR Congo have met in 15 matches dating back as far as 1960. The Elephants have claimed six wins compared to four for the Leopards, while five games have been drawn. The teams’ most recent meeting was an African Nations Championship group stage match in January 2023 in Annaba which ended in a 0-0 draw.

Cote d’Ivoire form: Cote d’Ivoire continue to ride their luck in the tournament: after narrowly squeezing through the group stage and then overcoming Senegal on penalties, the Elephants defied being both a goal down and having two men sent off to defeat Mali 2-1 after extra time in an incredible quarterfinal this past Saturday evening. Simon Adingra and Oumar Diakite scored the key goals for Cote d’Ivoire as they recorded a victory which has the host nation believing that they are destined for glory.

DR Congo form: DR Congo, after recording four successive draws in the tournament (three in Group F against Zambia, Morocco and Tanzania, and then in the round of 16 a 1-1 stalemate after extra time with Egypt before edging through on penalties), finally clicked into their higher gears this past Friday evening when they came from a goal down to trump Guinea 3-1, thanks to goals from Chancel Mbemba, Yoane Wissa and Arthur Masuaku.

Team news: Cote d’Ivoire will be without Odilon Kossounou and Oumar Diakite due to suspension, as both were sent off in the quarterfinal against Mali. Wilfied Singo or Willy Boly are the likely replacements for the former in the starting XI, while the latter’s absence gives the Elephants fewer attacking options off the bench.

DR Congo has no reported injury or suspension worries and are likely to select the same XI that did duty against Guinea in the previous round.

Key players, Cote d’Ivoire: Seko Fofana remains the key player for Cote d’Ivoire and he put in a performance of both great technical quality and selfless endeavour to help his team shrug off the disadvantage of playing most of the 120 minutes against Mali a man down. Also keep an eye out for Sebastien Haller, who is gaining in form and fitness, and the aggressive Simon Adingra.

Key players, DR Congo: Aside from his outstanding goal against Guinea in the quarterfinals, Arthur Masuaku is a highly influential figure from his position as left-back, providing a fine range of passing and crosses. Yoane Wissa is also a selfless and technically astute attacker, while Chancel Mbemba’s experience, versatility and goal threat from set pieces marks him out as a foundational member of the team.

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