AFCON 2021: Ivory Coast can book knockout slot with Sierra Leone win - Latest football news in Uganda
May 26, 2022

AFCON 2021: Ivory Coast can book knockout slot with Sierra Leone win

By Allan Damba
An emotional Maxi Alain Gradel is mobbed by teammates after his goal against Equatorial Guinea | CAF Image

Ivory Coast will have an opportunity to progress into the last 16 of the Africa Cup of Nations when they square up to the challenge of Sierra Leone at the Japoma Stadium on Sunday.

The Elephants managed to scrape past the Nzalang Nacional of Equatorial Guinea in a narrow 1-0 victory on Wednesday to get things started on the front foot.

The contest was decided in the fifth minute as Max Gradel scored a peach of a goal to hand Patrice Beaumelle’s men all three points.

Consequently, the Elephants sit top of the pile in Group E and are two points clear of both Algeria and Sierra Leone.

The latter, on the other hand, secured an impressive point in last time out against Algeria and now seek to build upon that in their second outing.

Sierra Leone defied all expectations in their opening fixture by holding the defending champions to a goalless draw on Tuesday.

Despite being under the cosh for major parts of the contest, John Keister’s men held firm to record a memorable result in Douala.

The Leone stars have given their chances of progressing into the knockout stages a huge boost but there is still work to be done in the remaining two matches.

In the previous meetings between the two, they have had to settle for a draw in each of the two encounters which came in the qualifiers for the 2017 AFCON.

Thirty-four year old Gradel has now found the back of the net in two of his last three outings for Ivory Coast and is one to keep an eye on.

Maxwel Cornet got the nod over Wilfred Zaha to feature on the left hand side of the attack last time out but the Crystal Palace player could return to the starting eleven for this one.

Steven Caulker was excellent in his Sierra Leone debut and his nation will need the defender to be on song for this one.

Mohamed Kamara overcame a late first-half injury scare in the Algeria game and should be fit enough to participate on Sunday.

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