One of the biggest games in the Africa Cup of Nations so far sees Ivory Coast clash with Algeria in the quarter-final. Both of these teams have been dubbed as favourites to win the tournament given how they’ve performed so far. Who will strike first? Here are the Three Keys to this clash. Bet on AFCON here.
Wilfried Zaha v Riyad Mahrez
The Elephants qualified for the quarter-final thanks to Wilfried Zaha’s all-important goal against Mali. In spite of that, can the Crystal Palace winger produce more moments of genius for his national side against the impressive Algerians? The 26-year-old star is just one member of a potent attacking triumvirate which also includes Nicholas Pepe and Jonathan Kodjia. Zaha will play against fellow Premier League star Riyad Mahrez who has been sensational. Can Zaha rise to the occasion tonight?
Desert Foxes captain, Mahrez, has been splendid in this tournament. The 28-year-old has lived up to the hype making his team one of the best this year. With two goals to his name already, Mahrez is turning out to be an influential figure in the team. However, he’ll be up against a very good Ivory Coast defence but will he live up to the billing once again?
Defence v Attack
Ivory Coast have conceded two goals in this tournament. As impressive as that is, they’ll be facing the best attack in the tournament in Algeria. The Elephants will have to raise their game to stop the Desert Foxes. One thing to note is that the first goal Ivory Coast conceded was against Morocco who showed that the North African side are more tactically disciplined and organized enough to trouble the West African teams who normally lack the cohesion even with their star-studded teams.
Algeria were dubbed as outsiders to win the tournament. They have demonstrated that they are now favourites to go all the way. A dominant 3-0 quarter-final win over Guinea meant they have now scored nine goals and conceded none. Can they continue with this impeccable form against a team that matches them in quality?
AFCON pedigree v Underachievement
Ivory Coast have been perennial AFCON challengers in the last decade. Since their failure to qualify for the 2004 edition in Tunisia, the Elephants have reached the final three times, finished fourth once and reached the quarter twice. However, their Golden Generation won the tournament in 2015. Therefore, the Elephants have been there and done that. However, they have to go past a good Algerian team in the quarters.
1990. That was the last time Algeria won the Africa Cup of Nations. They failed to qualify for the 2006 and 2008 editions and surprisingly, they finished fourth in the 2010 tournament in Angola. However, they failed to qualify for the 2012 edition again. Such is the inconsistency and underachievement of the Algerian team. Can they banish those traumatic memories this year?