Côte d’Ivoire Target First AFCON Win Against Egypt In 32 Years
African heavyweights Côte d’Ivoire and Egypt will take to the field today for their AFCON 2021 round of 16 clash at the Douala Stadium for a place in the quarter-finals.
Côte d’Ivoire enjoyed an unbeaten run in the group stages, picking up two wins and one draw, while Egypt finished runners-up to Nigeria in Group D after claiming six points from three games.
On the back of a comfortable run in the group stages, the Elephants will head into the knockout stages with real belief in their chances of going all the way and picking up their first Africa Cup of Nations title since 2015.
But for Côte d’Ivoire to land a third AFCON title they must go past the seven-time champions who they have not beaten at the tournament since the 1990 edition in Algiers.
Since the edition 32 years ago, where Côte d’Ivoire beat Egypt 3-1 in a group stage game, they have not recorded a win against the Pharaohs in their last four meetings in the competition.
In the quarter-finals of the 1998 AFCON Egypt triumphed over Côte d’Ivoire on penalties and defeated them in the group stage and final of the 2006 tournament on home soil.
And in their last meeting in the quarter-finals of the Ghana 2008 AFCON, Egypt thrashed Côte d’Ivoire 4-1, and went on to be crowned champions.
Speaking ahead of today’s big tie, Côte d’Ivoire head coach Patrice Beaumelle said his side will go into the fixture as underdog.
“We are happy to have finished first in our group. Now that is behind us. We want to continue our way in the competition.
“This outsider status suits us very well. It is the journalists who put the status on the teams. We know where we want to go. Two years ago, it was to qualify for AFCON today we are together. I was waiting for this moment to spend time together.”
According to Côte d’Ivoire’s striker Sébastien Haller, he said their aim is to emerge champions.
“We want to repeat the performances of 2015. To please everyone. Egypt is a big team, their coach has a lot of experience they have top players like Mohamed Salah.
“It is a knockout match that can be played over 90 minutes or more. We are preparing for a tactical match, which will be very close. We do not come to the AFCON not to win it. My ambition is to make history.”
For Egypt’s head coach Carlos Queiroz, he said they will do everything possible to overcome the Ivorians.
“We will ignore the past and focus on what is to come. We will make sure that the Egyptian national team is the best on the field.
“We can satisfy millions of fans all over Egypt against Côte d’Ivoire. We have great players and our team is beautiful.”
And according to Egypt’s star forward Mohamed Salah:”There are young players who joined the national team without experience and may be affected by criticism, so I ask the fans and analysts to support them.”