Ivory Coast and DR Congo set to clash in CAF AFCON 2023 semifinal | Africa Cup of Nations News Preview

Who: Ivory Coast vs DR Congo

What: CAF Africa Cup of Nations 2023 semifinal

When: Wednesday, February 6, 2024, 20:00 GMT

Where: Alassane Ouattara Stadium, Abidjan, Ivory Coast

Hosts Ivory Coast are fancied to continue their remarkable revival at the Africa Cup of Nations and ride a frenzied wave of home support as they seek a place in the final with victory over the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The two meet in Abidjan on Wednesday just hours after Nigeria face South Africa in Bouake in the first semifinal. The winners advance to Sunday’s final in Abidjan.

The Ivorians have put aside their stuttering start to the tournament, including a humiliating 4-0 loss in the group stage to tiny Equatorial Guinea, to reach the final four, roared on by capacity home crowds.

They return to Abidjan’s Alassane Ouattara Olympic Stadium, which is where they delivered timid performances in the group stage but now look a revitalised side after their come-from-behind knockout round success over holders Senegal and neighbours Mali.

“We were at the bottom of a hole after losing to Equatorial Guinea. We had to wait for the [rest of the] group matches to [finish to] find out whether we qualified, which happened,” said influential Ivorian midfielder Seko Fofana.

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“After all that we endured, we are no longer afraid of anything.

“After the Equatorial Guinea match, we were insulted and we felt alone. But we managed to get through. Champions always manage to advance.”

The Ivorians take on a Congolese outfit who drew four successive matches before their 3-1 quarterfinal win over Guinea.

They had set advancing from their group, which they did despite three draws, as their primary ambition for the tournament so anything they achieve now is a bonus.

“Now we are in the semifinals, it would be stupid not to believe we can go on and get into the final,” said coach Sebastien Desabre.

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The Congolese won the second of their two Cup of Nations triumphs 50 years ago when the country was known as Zaire.

Form

Ivory Coast are building their way into this tournament after a group-stage performance that left the hosts on the verge of elimination. The win against the defending champions, Senegal, put the Elephants back on course and overcoming Mali in the quarterfinals was no mean feat either.

DRC knocked out the record winners, Egypt, in the round of 16 – that alone is good enough for any form book and made them heavy favourites to beat Guinea in the quarterfinals.

Head-to-head:

This will be the 15th meeting of the sides and is a repeat of the 2015 AFCON final.

The Elephants won that encounter 3-1 with goals from Gervinho, Wilfried Kanon and Yaya Toure.

Overall Ivory Coast have won six of the meetings to DRC’s four with five draws.

Ivory Coast team news

Ivory Coast pair Oumar Diakite and Odilon Kossounou are suspended for the match after they were both sent off against Mali.

Diakite’s second yellow was received for removing his shirt in celebrating the winning goal.

Willy Boly is the favourite to come in for Kossounou in defence. Striker Sebastien Haller has overcome an ankle injury and could make his first start.

Predicted XI: Yayhia Fofana, N’Clomande Konan, Jean Seri, Seko Fofana, Willy Boly, Franck Kessie, Max Gradel, Serge Aurier, Nicolas Pepe, Kouakou Kouampe, Obite Ndicka

DR Congo team news

There are no new concerns for DRC going into the match after Yoane Wissa shrugged off a slight problem from the last match.

Predicted XI: Lionel Nzau, Henock Baka, Samuel Moutoussamy, Theo Bongonda, Meschack Lina, Cedric Bakambu, Charles Monginda, Yoane Wissa, Chancel Mbemba, Gedeon Kyatengwa, Fuka Kawela

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