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Equatorial Guinea Underdogs Against Ivory Coast

Equatorial Guinea will be underdogs going into their opening 2021 African Cup of Nations, Group E match against Cote d’Ivoire at the Japoma Stadium on Wednesday.

The match is scheduled to get underway at 19h00 (GMT).

Equatorial Guinea, who are making a return to the Africa Cup of Nations finals after a seven-year absence, will also face tournament favourites Algeria and debutants Sierra Leone in the other two Group matches.

But a win against the North African side will increase their chances of making it to the knock out stage of the competition for the first time in three attempts.

The last time Equatorial Guinea took part in the competition was in 2015 at home where they the finished fourth in the tournament.

Analysts feel Algeria and Ivory Coast are best placed to progress from Group E, with Equatorial Guinea and Sierra Leone being considered outsiders, but all that could change with a favourable result in the opening fixture.

“Since our great adventure in 2015, we have learned to be very careful. But we will show what we are capable of. All the matches will be very important for us. We are going to take them all very seriously. It will be a great experience for us,” Equatorial Guinea coach Juan Micha Obiang told reporters in a recent interview.

Ivory Coast come into this competition tied with hosts Cameroon on most books as the third favorite to lift the trophy, behind favorites Senegal and defending champions Algeria.

The West Africans had the best qualifying campaign and sailed to the Afcon 2021 after finishing top in their qualifying group ahead of Ethiopia.

The Elephants have an immensely talented squad brimming with established talent plying their trade across the top league in Europe.

Serge Aurier, Eric Bailly, Max Gradel, Serey Die, Wilfried Zaha, Sebastien Haller, Maxwel Cornet are some of the starts that coach Patrice Beaumelle will depend as the Ivoirians fight for their second continental title.

“We are in a tough group with teams I do respect all. All the games will be tough and exciting. We cannot wait to be there,”coach Beaumelle said in a recent interview.

Ivory Coast are coming off to the game after a 1-0 loss to Cameroon which bundled them out of the World Cup qualification, while Equatorial Guinea last competitive match was a 1-1 draw over lowly ranked Mauritius.

The Elephants were forced to cancel their Pre-Afcon friendly with Tunisia while in Jedah, Saudi Arabia  because of positive cases in their camp.

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