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Profiling the AFCON teams: Ivory Coast

Ivory Coast has won two AFCON titles. (PHOTOS/AGENCIES)

Ivory Coast will be featuring in their 20th Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) tournament and 7th in a row since 2006.  Ivory Coast have won the AFCON title twice in their history (1992 and 2015).

In the 2019 edition, Ivory Coast is in Group D alongside Morocco, South Africa and Namibia.

The Elephants did not enter into qualification for the first four AFCON editions between 1957 and 1963.

At the first time of entering qualification, Ivory Coast sealed a spot at the 1965 edition in Tunisia. They finished second in Group B and went on to win 1-0 against Senegal and in consequence finish 3rd in the competition.

Third spot is the same position Ivory Coast would finish in the next edition in 1968. This time round, they topped Group A but lost their semifinal match against Ghana. A 1-0 win over Ethiopia in the third place playoff game sealed 3rd position for the Elephants.

After two consecutive 3rd place finishes, Ivory Coast finished 4th in 1970 after losing 3-1 to the United Arab Republic in the losers’ match.

They did not qualify for the 1972 edition in Cameroon before a group stage elimination in 1974.

Ivory Coast did not appear at the next two editions. They failed to qualify for AFCON 1976 and were banned in 78.

The Elephants would however return for Nigeria 1980 but their appearance was limited to just the Group stages as they finished third in Group A behind eventual winners Nigeria and Egypt.

After the group stage elimination in 1980, Ivory Coast did not enter into qualification for the 82 edition.

They returned for their home edition in 1984 but it ended in disappointment. After two loses and one victory, Ivory Coast finished 3rd in Group A and were eliminated at the Group stage.

The Elephants upped their game in the next edition, finishing second in Group A and storming the knock-out stages. However, they lost 1-0 to Cameroon but went on to defeat Morocco 3-2 in the third place playoff game, to ensure they finish in 3rd spot.

1988 and 1990 were a disappointment for the Elephants as they on both occasions failed to progress past the group stage.

1992 would however be the home of their first AFCON title. In the Edition in Senegal, Ivory Coast topped Group C and went on to defeat Zambia 1-0 at the quarter finals. In the semis, the Elephants scrapped past Cameroon via penalties and set up a meeting with Ghana in the final.

After a goalless draw in 120 minutes, Ivory Coast scored 11 of their 12 penalties while Ghana missed two, for the Elephants to win their maiden AFCON title.

Ivory Coast won their first title in 1992.

Their triumph in 92 was followed up by a third place finish in Tunisia 94.

The next four editions between 1996 and 2002 saw Ivory Coast perform below expectations. Failed to get out of the Group in 96, were defeated on penalties by Egypt in 98 and the failed to progress from the Group stages of both 2000 and 2002.

Disaster would strike in 2004 as Ivory Coast, for the first time in over 20 years, failed to reach the finals of the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).

After the humiliation of 2004, Ivory Coast made a return to the finals in Egypt 2006 where they would finish second. In the groups, they finished second behind Egypt to storm the quarters where eliminated Cameroon in penalties. In the last four, they beat Nigeria 1-0 to seal a finals’ spot. However, they could not replicate their 1992 heroics as they lost to Egypt on penalties.

In 2008, they finished fourth following a semifinal loss to eventual winners Egypt and another loss to Ghana in the third place playoff game.

The 2010 edition in Angola, Ivory Coast topped Group B to reach the quarter finals where they lost 3-2 after extra time, to Algeria.

The following edition saw the Elephants reach yet another final, their third in history. After topping Group B, Ivory Coast defeated Equatorial Guinea and Mali in the quarters and semis to reach the finals.

In the final, they drew 0-0 with Zambia after 120 minutes but would lose 7-8 in penalties.

2013 was a disappointment as the Elephants failed to replicate their 2012 form. After winning Group D, Ivory Coast lost 1-2 to Nigeria in the quarters to exit the competition.

In 2015, Ivory Coast became champions for the second time in history. The Elephants won one game and drew the other two to finish top of Group D. In the quarters and semis, they defeated Algeria and DR Congo respectively to set up a clash with Ghana.

Like it was in 2006 against Egypt, the game headed for penalties after a 0-0 draw in 120 minutes. However, Ivory Coast this time round ran out winners, triumphing 9-8.

2017 was once again a disappointment for the Elephants as they failed to negotiate through Group which featured DR Congo, Morocco and Congo, finishing third after two draws and a loss.

Coach 

Ibrahim Kamara

Kamara is a 53 year old Ivorian football manager who has been the coach of Ivory Coast since 2018.

Kamara has been coach of Ivory Coast since 2018.

Kamra coached the U17 national team at the 2013 FIFA U17 World Cup. He also coached the Ivory Coast “CHAN” team at the 2018 Africa Nations Championship tournament where they finished bottom of Group B with 1 point.

In July 2018, he was appointed coach of the Ivory Coast national football team.

Star Player

Nicholsa Pepe

Pépé is a 24 year old winger who plays for Ligue One side Lille.

Pépé began his career with Politiers in 2012–13. He then signed for Angers, and spent his first season with the reserves in the CFA 2.

Pépé was loaned to Orleans for the 2015/16 season, and helped the club to promotion from the third tier as runners-up. He returned to an Angers side playing in Ligue One.

On 21 June 2017, Pépé signed a five-year deal with Lille, for a maximum transfer fee of €10 million.

Pepe has played 158 official club games, scoring 48 goals. For Ivory Coast, the 24 year old has scored four goals in 11 appearances.

Pepe has scored 4 goals in 11 games for Ivory Coast.

Projection: Semi final

Ivory Coast fixtures at AFCON 2019

-Ivory Coast vs South Africa, 24nd June

-Morocco vs Ivory Coast, 28th June

-Namibia vs Ivory Coast, 01th July

Goalkeepers: Sylvain Gbohouo (TP Mazembe), Ali Badra (Free State Stars), Tape Ira (FC San Pedro)

Defenders: Serge Aurier (Tottenham), Wilfried Kanon (ADO The Hague), Wonlo Coulibaly (ASEC Mimosas), Ismaël Traoré (Angers), Mamadou Bagayoko (Red Star), Cheikh Comara (Wydad Casablanca), Souleyman Bamba (Rennes)

Midfielders: Jean-Philippe Gbamin (Mainz), Geoffrey Serey Dié (Neuchâtel Xamax), Jean-Michaël Seri (Fulham), Victorian Angban (Metz), Franck Kessié (Milan) , Ibrahim Sangaré (Toulouse)

Strikers: Max-Alain Gradel (Toulouse), Nicolas Pépé (Lille), Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace), Jonathan Kodjia (Aston Villa), Roger Assalé (Young Boys Bern), Maxwel Cornet (Lyon), Wilfried Bony (Without a club).

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