(Sporting Alert) — Favourites Ivory Coast are excited about getting their 2013 Africa Cup of Nations group campaign underway on Tuesday.
The tournament first-pick, who will open in Group D against Togo at Royal Bafokeng Stadium, are desperate to end their 20-year wait for a title.
“We can’t wait to get going, we’re preparing for that,” head coach Sabri Lamouchi said.
Ivory Coast have started several Africa Cup of Nations tournament as big favourites, but have failed on several occasions, with their last hold on the trophy coming in 1992 when they defeated Ghana.
“There’s a bit of the good kind of pressure,” Lamouchi said.
“Even if we appear calm, we are working daily.
“We know there is an expectation for the players at the tournament, the last victory dates back 20 years, and since then they’ve suffered some hard defeats.”
Togo towering striker Emmanuel Adebayor will be hoping to get his own team off to a good, with the likes of former Chelsea star Didier Drogba, Arsenal forward Gervinho and Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure ready to start at the other end.
Newcastle United midfielder Cheick Tiote and Lille forward Salomon Kalou have been left out by Ivory Coast.
Tottenham forward Adebayor and goalkeeper Kossi Agassa, two players who were originally left out of the team, start today for Togo.
“We are not afraid of these big teams,” said Togo coach Didier Six.
“This group is difficult, but we have a new generation that want to make a name for itself.
“There is everything to gain and nothing to lose.”
The Sky is the limit and Sky Bet are backing Ivory Coast to beat Togo today today, with strikers Didier Drogba and Emmanuel Adebayor both backed to score goals for their respective teams.
Ivory Coast: Barry, Eboue, Toure, Bamba, Tiene, Zokora, Toure, Konan, Gradel, Gervinho, Drogba. Subs: Yeboah, Kone, Boka, Romaric, Razak, Kalou, Tiote, Bony, Lacina Traore, Lolo, Ismael Traore, Ali Sangare.
Togo: Agassa, Nibombe, Mamah, Djene, Bossou, Akakpo, Amewou, Romao, Jonathan Ayite, Gakpe, Adebayor. Subs: Atsu, Wome, Salifou, Floyd Ayite, Mani, Ouro-Akoriko, Segbefia, Placca, Ametepe, Donou, Damessi, Tchagouni.
Referee: Neant Alioum (Cameroon)