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Sports World News of Friday, 20 January 2017

Source: GHANAsoccernet.com

Champions Ivory Coast look to bounce back against DR Congo

Defending champions Ivory Coast will look to shift gears when they meet the Democratic Republic of Congo in an Africa Cup of Nations Group C fixture at Stade d’Oyem on Friday.

Ivory Coast dominated possession in their opening encounter against Togo on Monday but had to settle for a draw.For DR Congo they celebrated their first round with 1-0 victory the same day.

Previously,both sides have met for a record seventeen times.In all those occasions Ivory Coast have won 8 games with DR Congo winning five times.

Indomitable Lions will head into the match knowing a win will guarantee them a spot in the quarter-finals while for DR Congo a win or a draw will be good to them as they look into getting a place in the last eight.

During the first match aganist Togo ,Wilfried Zaha and company struggled to create many opportunities though the Crystal Palace winger was perhaps their most impressive performer in Oyem.

However the likes of Jonathan Kodjia, Salomon Kalou and Wilfried Bony rarely tested an organised but unexceptional Togo defence; they can ill-afford such a dearth of attacking intent against group leaders DR Congo on their return to the Stade d’Oyem.

Ivory Coast head coach Michel Dussuyer was critical of his side display and called on his side to produce a performance worthy of champions as the Elephants aim to collect their first victory at the 2017 African Cup of Nations..

The Elephants boss described their performance against Togo as “a pale copy” of their true potential but Dussuyer deserves to take his own share of the criticism having withdrawn Wilfred Zaha in the second period, arguably Ivory Coast’s liveliest attacking weapon.

DR Congo are currently in the topping the group with their opponents two points behind them.

Francis Ibenge side’s only goal came from great works of Kabananga Junior who later got injured and was replaced by experienced Mbokani while Lomalisa Mutambala received two yellow cards against Morocco and he was sent off.

With the impressive record,DR Congo has talent and they will not be handicapped by the inavaiability of the two players but they have to overcome the Elephants and with high levels of motivation in the camp the Leopards will be having their claws sharp to wrestle the big animal.

Their key player who is expected to shine this evening is 30-year-old Gabriel Zakuani.A very experienced central defender, he was solid at the back for the Leopards as they contained Morocco’s Lions of the Atlas.He is expected to put a wonderful show in order to help the Leopards shoot down the reigning African Champions.