Ivory Coast faces off against Congo DR at the Alassane Ouattara Stadium on Wednesday for the second semi-final of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations.
This marks the Elephants’ return to Ebimpe since their 4-0 defeat to Equatorial Guinea in the group stage, offering them an opportunity to win back their fans in Abidjan by taking on a DRC team eager to reach the final for the first time since 1974 .
The host nation has been the epitome of the tournament’s drama, pushing forward in spite of injuries and a disappointing group stage performance.
After a heavy loss to Equatorial Guinea, Ivory Coast was close to exiting the tournament. However, under Emerse Fae’s guidance, who took over from Jean-Louis Gasset, the team’s spirits have been revived.
They’ve managed to knock out the defending champions , Senegal, and achieved a remarkable last-minute win against Mali with only 10 players, electrifying the crowd in Bouake.
Despite the exhaustion from playing extra time in their recent matches, Ivory Coast aims to use the home crowd’s energy to reach their first final since winning the tournament in 2015.
The team has shown resilience, coming back from slow starts, which suggests they can handle the pressure against DRC, despite Fae’s hopes to avoid conceding early as they have in their last few games.
On the other hand, Congo DR’s timely victory over Guinea, avoiding extra playtime, has propelled them into the semi-finals for the first time since 2015, marking only their second appearance since the new millennium.
Having rarely faced each other since DRC’s 1974 championship win, and after defeats in both the 1998 and 2015 semi-finals, the Leopards are hopeful for a win against the hosts, especially having already played at the Alassane Ouattara Stadium.
However, facing a supportive and intense crowd will pose new challenges for Desabre’s team.
The last AFCON encounter between these teams was in 2017, ending in a 2-2 draw, continuing DRC’s winless streak against Ivory Coast in the tournament since their win in 2002.
Ivory Coast Africa Cup of Nations form:
Ivory Coast form (all competitions):
Congo DR Africa Cup of Nations form:
Congo DR form (all competitions):
Ivory Coast will miss Serge Aurier due to suspension, along with Odilon Kossounou and Oumar Diakite for card offences.
Despite not starting together before, Sebastien Haller and Simon Adingra might play from the start, while Ibrahim Sangare could return to replace Franck Kessie if fit.
Congo DR might be without Gael Kakuta again, with four players at risk of suspension for the final. Unless Kakuta is fit, an unchanged lineup is expected for the semi-final.
Possible Starting Lineups
Ivory Coast: (4-2-3-1)
Singo, Ndicka, Boly, Konan;
Pepe, Fofana, Adingra;
Congo DR: (4-2-3-1)
Kalulu, Mbemba, Inonga, Masuaku;
Elia, Bongonda, Wissa;
Prediction: Ivory Coast 2-1 Congo DR
Despite Congo DR’s potential, Ivory Coast has the momentum and home support advantage.