Two-time Africa Cup of Nations champions Ivory Coast will take on out of form Uganda in a friendly match before the tournament kicks off a week later. Can Ivory Coast continue with their strong form or will Uganda Cranes register a shock result? Here are the Three Keys to this clash. Bet on football here.
Ivory Coast experience v Uganda inexperience
Since 1984, the Ivorians have failed to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations on one occasion only, in 2004 in Tunisia. Although the Elephants have underachieved with their golden generation, they still managed to win towards the tail end of their illustrious career in 2015. Therefore, this group of players know what it takes to go all the way and with their quality, they will cause the Ugandans a lot of problems.
Uganda ended their 40-year wait to play in Africa’s largest football tournament when they qualified in 2017. The Cranes have now made it back to back qualifications which is no small task. However, apart from a few players, most of them are inexperienced and are yet to play at a higher level. Against Ivory Coast, they are not only inferior in quality but also experience. The Elephants have the likes of Wilfried Zaha, Nicolas Pepe and Wilfred Bony in their ranks, players who have played at the top level.
Nicolas Pepe v Denis Onyango
Pepe has had a terrific season at Lille in the just-concluded season. He scored scoring 22 goals as well as recording 11 assists to help his side finish second in Ligue 1. This devastating form has seen him linked with big European clubs. Uganda’s defence led by goalkeeper Denis Onyango will have a long day defending this quick and tricky winger. Can they keep him quiet?
Onyango was named the best African goalkeeper in Africa in the 2018 CAF awards in Senegal. The Mamelodi Sundowns custodian has been Uganda Cranes’ shining light in the last few years and was influential when his country qualified to the 2017 AFCON for the first time in 40 years. Pepe, Zaha and company will have to be clinical to get past him. Given the potency of the Elephants attack, Onyango will definitely be kept very busy.
Ivory Coast great form v Uganda’s poor form
Ivory Coast are one of the favourites to win the tournament. Their pedigree, quality and experience puts them in that position. They’ve been in good form too. They’re unbeaten in the last six matches in all competitions, winning four and drawing the other two. Therefore, they have the momentum which should worry Sebastien Desabre’s men.
Uganda Cranes are not in the best form at the moment. They’re winless in their last four matches. The Ugandans have also won just three matches in their last ten. However, they would want to gain some momentum and confidence before heading to Egypt for Africa’s biggest football showpiece with a win against one of the best teams on the continent.