Ivory Coast set out to open their Africa Cup of Nations campaign on a winning note on Wednesday when they lock horns with Equatorial Guinea at the Japoma Stadium.
Both teams will be looking to steal an early march in Group E where they have been drawn alongside Sierra Leone and defending champions Algeria.
Having featured in eight consecutive AFCON tournaments, Ivory Coast wasted no time in securing a spot at this year’s event as they racked up 13 of a possible 18 points during the qualifying campaign.
Since they last tasted continental success back in 2015, Patrice Beaumelle’s men have performed far below expectations in the subsequent two editions of the competition.
Les Elephants have lost just one of their last 12 matches, although that was a defeat which cost them a place in the playoffs of the World Cup qualifiers.
With the majority of the travelling squad members now at the peak of their powers, Ivory Coast are one of the favourites to go all the way in Cameroon.
An opening victory would certainly help raise the confidence levels, and the West Africans will be keen to fly out of the blocks with a heavyweight clash versus Algeria still to come.
Off the back of consecutive no-shows in 2017 and 2019, Equatorial Guinea were determined to make the cut this time around and got the job done despite only amassing nine points during the qualifiers.
The Nzalang Nacional head into Wednesday’s contest unbeaten in their last five matches since suffering a 3-0 defeat against Tunisia in September.
Juan Micha’s men have recorded shut-outs in three of those matches but are set to be extensively tested against a very potent opposition in attack.
After a semi-final exit in their last appearance at this level seven years ago, the central Africans go in search of another deep run into the latter stages.
Equatorial Guinea form (all competitions):
Ivory Coast form (all competitions):
We say: Equatorial Guinea 0-2 Ivory Coast
Ivory Coast have more experience at this level and are huge favourites to come away with all three points in this one. We fancy them to come out on top at the end of the 90 minutes.