The 2021 TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) currently underway, enters day 4 with two former winners, the Elephants of La Côte d’Ivoire and the Carthage Eagles of Tunisia, in action to today.
It would be a clash of “Eagles” when Tunisia and Mali lock horns as Group F of the TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations kicks off on Wednesday, January 12, 2022 at the Limbe Omnisports Stadium at 13:00 GMT.
Mali is so far unbeaten against Tunisia at the Africa Cup of Nations. They have met twice previously, each time in the group phase: Mali won 2-0 in 1994 before a 1-1 draw in 2019.
This is Tunisia’s 20th participation in the Africa Cup of Nations, and their 15th in a row, the latter being a new record in the history of the tournament. However, the Carthage Eagles’ only AFCON title dates back to 2004, as hosts and since then, have progressed past the quarter-finals only once, in 2019.
For the Eagles of Mali, this is their 12th participation in the Africa Cup of Nations; only Senegal (60, prior to 2021) have played more games than Mali (50) at AFCON without ever winning the trophy. The Eagles’ best performance dates back to 1972, the only previous time the AFCON was held in Cameroon, when Mali lost 3-2 in the final against Congo. The Eagles are hoping that history will repeat itself for them to reach the finals and possibly win their first title.
Côte d’Ivoire vs Equatorial Guinea
2015 Champions, the Elephants of La Cote d’Ivoire and the Nzalang Nacional of Equatorial Guinea face off in Douala later today in the Group E Match Day 1 of the TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations that is gradually gathering momentum in Cameroon.
The only previous encounter between Equatorial Guinea and Côte d’Ivoire in the Africa Cup of Nations was in the quarterfinals of the 2012 tournament in which Côte d’Ivoire won 3-0.
This is Côte d’Ivoire’s 24th participation in the Africa Cup of Nations, just behind Egypt with a record 25 appearances. The Elephants have won the tournament twice (1992 and 2015) and progressed to the knockout stages in seven of their last eight appearances.
Côte d’Ivoire has lost only two of its last 20 group games at the Africa Cup of Nations (W12 D6), both against Morocco in 2017 and 2019. However, the Elephants’ last defeat in an opening match was in 1996 when they lost 2-0 against the Black Stars of Ghana.
After missing their chance in reaching the 2022 FIFA World Cup, the Elephants of La Cote d’Ivoire see the ongoing AFCON as a perfect chance to make amends.
Cote d’Ivoire goes for a win in each match
Coach Patrice Beaumelle, assistant to Hervé Renard during the 2015 victory, hinted that his team is in good shape and well prepared for the tournament.
“In Cote d’Ivoire, we go for win in each game. Equatorial Guinea are always a difficult team to play against. The team is motivated to do well in this competition. All the players are ready and we have no excuses”.Patrice Beaumelle
On the other hand, this is Equatorial Guinea’s third Africa Cup of Nations, but it’s the first time the team has qualified as non-hosts. Equatorial Guinea has so far always reached the knockout stages (quarterfinalists in 2012, 4th place in 2015).
Equatorial Guinea hopeful against Côte d’Ivoire
For the first time in its history, the Nzalang Nacional of Equatorial Guinea qualified to the TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations from the qualification series. In the two previous appearances on home soil, Equatorial Guinea progressed beyond the group stage, finishing the 2015 edition at home in a historic fourth place. This year, the team faces a new adventure away from home.
However, ahead of the game, Assistant coach of the Nzalang Nacional of Equatorial Guinea, Castro Nopo, expressed much confidence in his team and believes playing away from home won’t prevent them from achieving the team’s targets in the tournament.
“We are not afraid of any team. We are like the other 23 teams here and we will defend our chances. Cote d’Ivoire is a great team, but the last time we played against them, it was a 1-1 draw. This AFCON will be very special for everyone. It’s a great competition and just because we’re going to play the tournament outside our country doesn’t mean we don’t have ambitions”.Castro Nopo