The hosts face the favourites in the round of 16! Ivory Coast, who snuck into the knockouts face off agaisnt the red-hot Senegal on a Monday evening with a quarter-final place on the line. Nigel Naicker previews.AFCON 2023
Match 42 – Senegal v Ivory Coast
Monday 29 January | 22:00

A mouth-watering clash is on the cards when two giants of the African game lock horns on Monday evening. Host Nation Ivory Coast will be heavily reliant on the home crowd to get them over the line against an in-form Senegalese outfit.

To Win Match (90 mins)
Senegal 5/4 | Draw 18/10 | Ivory Coast

The Lions of Teranga made light work of their group stage fixtures as they are the only team left in the tournament with a perfect record. Following victories over Gambia, Cameroon and Guinea, they have won all three group-stage games in a single AFCON for the first time in their history.

The Senegalese are a formidable outfit and are one of the favourites to lift the cup and defend their crown as continental champions. Coach Aliou Cisse will be relying on his experienced players to book a quarter-final spot against the hosts. Goalkeeper Edouard Mendy has kept two clean sheets this tournament and the defence, marshalled by Kalidou Koulibaly has been rock solid.

At the business end of the pitch, their eight goals in three matches means that they are living up to the hype. The eight goals that they scored in teh group stages is the most that they’ve ever scored at this juncture of the tournament. Ominous signs ahead for the hosts.

The hosts have had a turbulent tournament to say the least, losing two of their three group-stage fixtures. That run including a humiliating 4-0 slapping at the warm palms of Equatorial Guinea. It was the biggest-ever margin of defeat at an AFCON tournament, inflicted upon the host nation.

The Elephants managed to qualify for the next round by being one of the best third-placed teams. This poor showing led to the sacking of Jean-Louis Gasset. 

Hopes of a claiming a third AFCON title haven’t yet fizzled out. Their blockbuster fixture on matchday two against an attack-heavy Nigeria, ended in defeat for the Elephants. To add injury to insult, the only host nation to lose two group games at an AFCON tournament was Ivory Coast themselves, back in 1984.

That said, they’re still in it and boast a capable side who can upset anyone on their day. Senegal are rightly favourites, but won’t take the hosts lightly. 

Verdict: Senegal 5/4

Ivory Coast will have the backing of the home support but I feel like Senegal just have too much firepower. Get on the defending champions to heap more misery on the hosts and book a spot in the quarter-finals.