Namibia v Ivory Coast: Kanon fires up Elephants
Ivory Coast defender Wilfried Kanon has urged his team-mates to banish the memory of defeat to Morocco as they look to seal qualification for the Africa Cup of Nations knockout stages against Namibia.
The 2015 winners fell to a 1-0 loss that handed the Group D leaders a last-16 berth, having beaten South Africa by the same margin in their tournament opener.
It means they are level on three points with Bafana Bafana heading into the final round of fixtures.
"We have to forget the Morocco game and focus on tomorrow," ADO Den Haag centre-back Kanon told a news conference on the eve of Monday's match in Cairo.
"We trained well and we'll give it everything to win."
Kanon is likely have a different right-back starting outside him after Mamadou Bagayoko came on for the injured Serge Aurier against Morocco.
The Elephants captain, whose season at Tottenham was hindered by thigh, groin and hamstring problems at various stages, fears his tournament could be at an end.
"I think it may be over because I felt something. It may be a tear," he told reporters, although he did not disclose the specific nature of the injury.
Namibia are without a point or a goal after back-to-back defeats and will hope to capitalise upon any uncertainty caused by Aurier's probable absence.
"There are no easy matches in this group and the Ivory Coast team would be wrong if they thought the match will be easy," said Brave Warriors boss Ricardo Mannetti.
"Our performances improve by time and we have to gather our strong points from the Morocco and South Africa matches. We must play with strength."
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Namibia – Manfred Starke
Namibia will look to Carl Zeiss Jena midfielder Starke to provide some drive and creativity after they managed a solitary shot on target across their opening two matches.
Ivory Coast – Wilfried Zaha
The Crystal Palace winger might be eyeing a blockbusting close-season transfer but he was left as an unused substitute during the Morocco defeat. Surely head coach Ibrahim Kamara must unleash one of the Premier League's most potent attacking talents with qualification on the line?
Key Opta facts
- Namibia have lost their only previous game against Ivory Coast in the Africa Cup of Nations, a 4-3 defeat in February 1998. Mannetti was on target that day.
- Namibia are winless in their eight AFCON games (D2 L6), failing to keep a clean sheet in any of these eight encounters (20 goals conceded).
- Ivory Coast have lost two of their past three games at the tournament (W1), as many as in their previous 21 (W11 D8). The Elephants have also failed to score in four of their previous six outings, as many blanks as in the 32 matches before that slump.
- Max Gradel has delivered an assist for two of Ivory Coast's past three AFCON goals.