Ivory Coast coach vows not to underestimate Guinea-Bissau in AFCON opener

The hosts nation kick off their campaign against opponents who have never won a match at the competition.

Pa Sport Staff
Friday 12 January 2024 17:20 GMT
The Ivory Coast kick off the African Cup of Nations on Saturday (Nick Potts/PA)
The Ivory Coast kick off the African Cup of Nations on Saturday (Nick Potts/PA) (PA Archive)

Ivory Coast boss Jean-Louis Gasset is wary of the underdog as his side kick off the Africa Cup of Nations against minnows Guinea-Bissau.

The host nation raise the curtain in the Group A clash on Saturday knowing their opponents have yet to win a match in three previous appearances at the tournament.

“We cannot underestimate Guinea-Bissau,” said Gasset on the tournament’s official website. “In these type of opening games, there is always a risk the underdog is fired up to cause an upset.”

Former West Ham striker Sebastian Haller is unavailable for the match with an ankle injury but Gasset hopes he will be back in time for the second match against Nigeria.

The Ivory Coast will be aiming for a first AFCON title since 2015 in their first home tournament in 39 years and are one of the favourites, with five English-based players, including Nottingham Forest trio Willy Boly, Serge Aurier and Ibrahim Sangare.

Guinea-Bissau are certainly not tipped to do well, with three draws and six defeats in their previous appearances, but coach Baciro Cande is targeting a shock.

“We know we can create a sensation against the hosts,” he said.

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