Twenty-four teams started the tournament, but just four remain in the hunt for the coveted AFCON title. On Wednesday night, the spotlight shifts to the Alassane Ouattara Stadium in Abidjan, where the DR Congo and a resurgent Ivory Coast lock horns in a mouthwatering semi-final clash.
DR Congo qualified after defeating Guinea 3-1, while Ivory Coast progressed with their epic 2-1 victory over Mali.
About the game
The Leopards of Congo have been quietly impressive throughout the tournament, demonstrating a blend of grit and determination. Their journey to the semis saw them overcome Egypt in a dramatic penalty shootout in the round of 16. They enjoyed another convincing 3-1 victory over Guinea in the Quarter Final, with Mbemba, Yoane Wissa, and Masuaku netting for the Leopards. Notably, Mbemba’s goal from a corner is only the Leopards’ second from that route in the tournament since 2010, with the first occurring in 2019 against Madagascar. The goal also made him Congo’s second oldest goalscorer at 29 years and 178 days, following Nicodème Kabamba’s achievement in 1968.
Coach Sebastien Desabre has instilled a sense of discipline and tactical awareness in his team, making them tough nut to crack. Congo might be the underdog in this contest, but they share an equal record of two AFCON titles with Ivory Coast, an experience worthy of this matchup. DR Congo booked its spot in the AFCON semi-finals for the 6th time in history. It is also their 2nd appearance in the 21st century following their 2015 success.
After a shaky start to the tournament, the Elephants have roared back to life. They lost two matches in the group phase but qualified as the fourth third-placed team in the tournament. Ivory Coast went on to eliminate Senegal, the defending champion, in the round of 16 before a thrilling 2-1 victory against Mali in the Quarters. Caretaker coach Emerse Fae of Ivory Coast made a strategic shakeup, introducing three alterations to the starting lineup after their epic victory against defending champion Senegal. Midfielder Franck Kessie, the hero of the winning penalty, returned alongside winger Nicolas Pepe and forwards Christian Kouame, replacing Ibrahim Sangare, Oumar Diakite, and Jean-Philippe Krasso for the upcoming challenge.
Ivory Coast’s progression to the final four was dramatic as Adingra equalized late in the regular period before Diakite’s 122-minute strike claimed the victory for the Elephant. This is the 2nd semi-final appearance for Ivory Coast since the 2015 season when they won the title. The scorer, Oumar Diakite, and Odilon Koussounou were given their marching orders from the game and will miss the Semi-Final, which is a great concern for interim coach Emerse Fae. They are the first Ivorian players to be sent off in the AFCON since Gervinho’s red card against Guinea in 2015.
The Best Betting Odds for Ivory Coast vs DR Congo
This match has all the ingredients of a classic. Both teams have their strengths and weaknesses, and the outcome could hinge on small details. While the home advantage and passionate support might favor the Ivory Coast.
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