Both Morocco and Ivory Coast look to book their place in the last 16 of the Africa Cup of Nations when they clash tonight. Who will carry the day? Here are the Three Keys to this huge clash. Bet on the game here.
Hakim Ziyech v Nicholas Pepe
Two of Africa’s biggest talents go head to head in another highly anticipated encounter in the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt. Ziyech has been sensational with his club Ajax in the just-concluded season. In Morocco’s first game against Namibia, his free-kick led to an own goal which gave the Atlas Lions a winning start. In all competitions last season including international friendlies, the 26-year old scored 21 goals and assisted 16 in a remarkable campaign. If he turns up, the Elephants are in trouble.
Meanwhile, Pepe, just like Ziyech has been a sensation in Ligue 1. Whereas Kylian Mbappe gets all the attention in the French top flight, Pepe was quietly going about his business. The 24-year-old Ivorian scored 22 goals and assisted a further 11 in Ligue 1. He also named the best players of the season by France’s national union of professional footballers (the UNFP). Therefore, Pepe and Ziyech will have a lot to say in tonight’s showdown. Who will come out on top?
Morocco experience v Ivory Coast inexperience
Morocco gave a good account of themselves in the 2018 World Cup although they didn’t get out of their group. They were unconvincing in their 1-0 win against Namibia and their ability will be severely tested when they play a talented Ivory Coast team. However, they’ll draw inspiration from their experienced coach Herve Renard. The French tactician has won two AFCON title; with Zambia in 2012 and Ivory Coast in 2015. Therefore, his experience will be valuable.
It seems like a century ago when the Ivorian golden generation suited and booted for this competition. The current Elephants team consists of young players who’ve not been at this stage before. Their coach, Ibrahim Kamara, has only coached the younger sides of Ivory Coast. This inexperience may play a part in today’s monumental showdown and we’re waiting to see how he’ll fare against the seasoned Renard.
Morocco shaky form v Ivory Coast decent form
Before their narrow win over Namibia, Morocco had lost their last three in a row. The Atlas Lions were unconvincing against Namibia and needed an own goal at the death to claim the three points. This trend is a huge concern given that they were dubbed as favourited in the lead up to the tournament. They will be facing a talented and hungry Ivory Coast team who’ve been in great form. Can they finally turn up?
Kamara’s men are in a great run. They’ve lost just once in 13 matches and head into this match in full confidence given they also impressed in their 1-0 over South Africa. With the likes of Wilfried Zaha and Pepe in their ranks, the Elephants are a dangerous team, perhaps even favourites to win it all. Can they make it three wins in a row when they face Morocco?