Ivory Coast aim for victorious start as Cup of Nations commences

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Hosts Ivory Coast will start their campaign in the Africa Cup of Nations against Guinea-Bissau at the newly-built Ebimpe Olympic Stadium. Ivory Coast, who have won the tournament twice before, are hoping to perform well under the pressure of playing at home. However, they face tough competition from teams like Morocco, Egypt, and Senegal, who are aiming to defend their title.

The Ivory Coast team is missing star forward Sebastien Haller due to an ankle injury, and they are also without a superstar like Didier Drogba. Despite these setbacks, the team is determined to meet the expectations placed on them. Guinea-Bissau, on the other hand, has never won a game in their previous appearances at the AFCON.

Originally scheduled for June and July, the tournament was pushed back to January and February due to concerns about the rainy season. The main focus for organizers is to ensure that the competition runs smoothly and without any incidents like the one that marred the previous edition in Cameroon.

Matches are being held in five different cities, including the capital Yamoussoukro, Bouake, San Pedro, Korhogo, and Abidjan. Two stadiums in Abidjan, including the centrally-located Felix Houphouet Boigny Stadium and the new Ebimpe Stadium named after President Alassane Ouattara, are being used for the tournament.

The Super Eagles of Nigeria are counting on Victor Osimhen, the Napoli striker who was named African Footballer of the Year for 2023, to make a difference in their campaign. Egypt, led by Mohamed Salah, will also begin their quest for an eighth AFCON title against Mozambique. Ghana, a four-time champion, will face Cape Verde in their opening match.

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