Hosts Ivory Coast got off to a perfect start in their opening match of the Cup of Nations. They faced Guinea-Bissau and secured a 2-0 victory. Seko Fofana scored a stunning early goal within four minutes of the game, followed by Jean-Philippe Krasso’s second-half strike. Ivory Coast is aiming to become the first host nation to win the trophy since 2006 when Egypt defeated them on penalties in the final. The team played well and was the better team against Guinea-Bissau, a tournament minnow. Despite some errors, they were pleased with the win and will continue to work on correcting their mistakes. They are determined to make the most of home advantage and win a third AFCON crown. The game was attended by just 36,858 fans in a 60,000-seat stadium. However, the players were grateful for the support they received.
The opening match was also marked by speeches from FIFA president Gianni Infantino, African football boss Patrice Motsepe, and Ivory Coast’s President Alassane Ouattara. The president declared his country as a “land of football” and expressed pride in hosting the tournament. Ivory Coast’s last opening match defeat in the AFCON was in 1998 against Burkina Faso. Fofana’s early goal made it clear that the trend would not continue in this tournament. The team was missing star striker Sebastien Haller due to injury, but Krasso stepped up to lead the attack.
The team showcased their attacking strength and depth throughout the match. Fofana continued to threaten the opposing team with his powerful shots, hitting the crossbar once. Krasso sealed the victory with an impressive goal, controlling the ball in the box and volleying it low into the net. Coach Jean-Louis Gasset was satisfied with the win and acknowledged the psychological difficulties of playing the opening match in front of a home crowd. The team will now prepare to face Nigeria, recognizing the challenge their impressive attacking armada poses.
In other upcoming matches, Nigeria will play Equatorial Guinea, and Group B will see Egypt facing Mozambique and Ghana taking on Cape Verde.