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17.01.2024, 07:57
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Exciting Matchups and Historic Firsts: Previewing the TotalEnergies CAF Africa Cup of Nations Group A Games in Abidjan

Exciting Matchups and Historic Firsts: Previewing the TotalEnergies CAF Africa Cup of Nations Group A Games in Abidjan

Group A of the TotalEnergies CAF Africa Cup of Nations continues with thrilling matches on Thursday, 18 January in Abidjan.

In a historic first, Equatorial Guinea faces Guinea-Bissau at the Alassane Ouattara Stadium. The teams last met in a friendly in Portugal in March 2022, where Guinea-Bissau emerged victorious with a 3-0 win. Equatorial Guinea, following a 1-1 draw with Nigeria, aims to remain unbeaten in their first two games of the tournament, a feat they achieved in 2012 and 2015, but missed in 2022. They have also scored in their last two CAF Africa Cup of Nations games, seeking to extend this scoring streak to three consecutive matches for the first time.

After a 0-2 loss to Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau risks losing their first two matches in the tournament for the first time. They have been winless in their last 10 CAF Africa Cup of Nations games, failing to score in the last eight since a defeat to Cameroon in 2017. They have not scored in 797 minutes at the tournament since a goal against Cameroon in January 2017.

Equatorial Guinea's Iban Salvador stands out as the first player from his team to score or assist in three different CAF Africa Cup of Nations editions, with the highest number of shots and goal involvements for the National Thunder since 2015. For Guinea-Bissau, Alfa Semedo was a key player against Côte d'Ivoire, leading in passes in the final third, duels won, and fouls drawn.

The same day, hosts Cote d’Ivoire and Nigeria clash at the Alassane Ouattara Stadium. This marks their seventh meeting in the tournament, with a balanced historical record: two wins each, two draws, and five goals each. Their last encounter was in 2013, where Nigeria won 2-1 in the quarter-finals and later won the trophy. Previous group-stage meetings between the teams have been low-scoring affairs.

Côte d'Ivoire, after a 2-0 win over Guinea-Bissau, looks to win their first two matches of the tournament, a feat last achieved in 2013. Nigeria, following a 1-1 draw with Equatorial Guinea, might not win their first two matches for the first time since 2013, the same year they last won the tournament. Host nations have a strong record in the group stages, with only one loss in the last 38 games.

Nigeria has been formidable in recent group stage games, losing only once in the last 12 matches. Nigeria’s Victor Osimhen and Côte d'Ivoire’s Franck Kessié are players to watch, with Osimhen scoring his first tournament goal against Equatorial Guinea and Kessié recording his fourth assist since 2017, tying with Mohamed Salah for the most assists since then.

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Liam Wright
Betting Tips Analyst

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