The penultimate round of sixteen match at the 2021 Africa Cup in Cameroon pits Côte d’Ivoire and Egypt against each other. Thus, the teams ranked 56th and 45th in the FIFA rankings will compete. In other words, on paper, the continent’s number ten and number six teams will clash.
The reality, however, is that Côte d’Ivoire in the preliminary round emerged as favourites to win the tournament. After a working win against Equatorial Guinea, the Elephants in a draw against Sierra Leone squandered the victory only in the final phase. On 20 January, the team of the Frenchman Patrice Beaumelle fixed the first place in Group E with a 3-1 against Algeria.
So, while the Ivorians went above their expectations, Egypt fell short of them in Group D. The Pharaohs, with Portugal’s Carlos Queiroz on the sidelines, started the tournament with a defeat against Nigeria. Unlike Algeria, the Egyptian national team bounced back and defeated Guinea-Bissau as well as Sudan despite mediocre performances.
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What speaks for Côte d’Ivoire?
- They have clearly performed better in the Africa Cup so far
- Have gained a lot of confidence and have less to lose than their opponents
- Scored at least two goals in six of their last eight internationals so far
What speaks for Egypt?
- Reacted immediately after the initial defeat against Nigeria and celebrated two victories
- Albeit against sides ranked below Côte d’Ivoire, they did not concede a goal
- Their opponents did not play to nil in three of their last four games so far
- An attacking player of Mohamed Salah’s quality can single-handedly decide a game at any time
Our betting tip:
- Bet: Egypt over 0.5 goals
- Bookmaker: 1xBet
- Odds: 1.64
Expert analysis Côte d’Ivoire
For Côte d’Ivoire, the opening match at the AFCON came almost exactly two months to the day after they missed out on qualification for the World Cup finals in Qatar. In this, the Elephants, with the Frenchman Patrice Beaumelle on the sidelines since November 2020, lost the mid-November showdown at 50th-ranked Cameroon 1-2. Before that, the first loss of points came in early September with a 0-0 draw at 118th-ranked Mozambique. Cameroon, on the other hand, suffered their only loss of points in the second round of World Cup qualifying with a 1-2 away defeat to Côte d’Ivoire.
So, Côte d’Ivoire compete in the Africa Cup in the country where they failed to qualify for the World Cup for the second time in a row. There, Beaumelle’s side started into the tournament with a 1-0 win over 114th-ranked Equatorial Guinea on 12 January. Max Gradel of Sivasspor scored the goal in the fifth minute.
Four days later, the Ivorians came within a whisker of advancing to the last sixteen. The Elephants conceded a 93rd-minute equalizer in a 2-2 against Sierra Leone, the 108th-ranked team in FIFA’s rankings. Earlier, Ajax’s Sébastien Haller, who leads the UEFA Champions League scoring charts, and Arsenal’s Nicolas Pépé twice gave Côte d’Ivoire an advantage.
Pépé then scored the third goal in a 3-1 on 20 January against 29th-ranked Algeria, who were eliminated from the 2019 Africa Cup with one point as the group bottom. Before that, two other stars, AC Milan’s Franck Kessié and PSV Eindhoven’s Ibrahim Sangaré, provided a 2-0 interval lead. The Desert Foxes were a shadow of their former selves in Group E at the AFCON, but Côte d’Ivoire scored at least two goals for the sixth time in eight international matches.
Now, the Africa Cup tasks will certainly not get any easier. However, the Elephants exceeded expectations by finishing first in the preliminary round, giving them confidence. But they will have to hope that their goalkeeper Badra Sangaré is as strong as he was against Equatorial Guinea and Algeria. Against Sierra Leone, the player of the South African second division club JDR Stars caused the late equalizer.
Expert analysis Egypt
Unlike Côte d’Ivoire, their round of sixteen opponents Egypt punched their ticket to the 2022 World Cup play-offs. Here, the Pharaohs were the only team in Group F to remain unbeaten in all six of their matches, winning four and drawing two. Strictly speaking, the point losses came at 89th-placed Gabon in early September and at 126th-placed Angola in mid-November. Then the Pharaohs, who presented Portuguese team coach Carlos Queiroz after the draw against Gabon, picked up a 2-1 home win over the same opponents at the end.
A few weeks later, Egypt took part in the Arab Cup in Qatar, with Queiroz going there with a much-changed team. The Portuguese did not exclusively do without Mohamed Salah from Liverpool and the other stars who are under contract in Europe. In the end, the Pharaohs had to settle for fourth place. The first defeat in two and a half years came against 30th-placed Tunisia. Then Egypt had to admit defeat to Qatar in a penalty shoot-out.
With the Egyptian national team fielding its best possible squad at the Africa Cup, expectations were high. That made the 0-1 loss to Nigeria in their opener on 11 January all the more surprising. The 36th-ranked Super Eagles are anything but an easy opponent, but their tournament preparation was far from ideal.
Thereafter, Egypt, unlike Algeria, bounced back and celebrated two 1-0 working victories against Guinea-Bissau and on 19 January against Sudan. The Pharaohs were not convincing either against the 106th-ranked or the 125th-ranked team. However, Salah and Mohamed Abdel Monem, who plays in his home country for Future, pulled the chestnuts out of the fire. Still, there is no question that they will have to step it up a notch in the knockout stage.
Head-to-head comparison Côte d’Ivoire – Egypt
The most recent match between Côte d’Ivoire and Egypt took place in Abu Dhabi in January 2013. The first mentioned team won the international friendly match 4-2. On the other hand, Côte d’Ivoire lost 1-4 to Egypt in their last competitive match to date, which took place in the semi-finals of the 2008 Africa Cup in Ghana.
Our betting tip and the best odds
Before the AFCON, Côte d’Ivoire would have gone into the match against Egypt as underdogs. After the preliminary round, the tide turned as the Elephants’ performances made them one of the title favourites. And they came close to finishing the preliminary round with the full number of points. Egypt celebrated two working victories recently, but the Pharaohs were not convincing.
Nevertheless, we expect the attacking unit around Salah to manage at least one goal in the round of sixteen as well. After all, Côte d’Ivoire conceded at least one goal in three of their last four appearances so far. Sierra Leone even scored twice.
Côte d’Ivoire vs. Egypt – betting tip: Egypt over 0.5 goals, odds 1.64 at bookmaker 1xBet
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