AFCON: Ivory Coast & South Africa Advance to Semi Finals

Hosts Ivory Coast defeated Mali 2-1 to advance to the semi finals of AFCON 2023, despite finishing the match with only 9 players. Oumar Diakité scored in stoppage of extra time to break the 1-1 deadlock and send Ivory Coast into the final four. 

Mali enjoyed a player advantage from the 43rd minute, when Odilon Kossounou was ejected from the match for a second yellow card. The foul was tactical, stopping Mali forward Lassine Sinayoko on a break.

After playing a man down for the entire second half and extra time, Diakité was booked for excessive celebrations after scoring. As Diakité’s second yellow card, he will be ineligible to play in their semi final match against Congo on Wednesday.

Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) logo is seen on a smartphone screen

The scoring was opened by Mali substitute Nene Dorgeles with a brilliant strike from distance inside the top right corner in the 71st minute. At this point Ivory Coast seemed like they would be eliminated, both a goal and a man down.

Mali goalkeeper Djigui Diarra who had been untroubled for a vast majority of the game then took a shot from Seko Fofana that rebounded to Adingra. Adingra didn’t make any mistake, pushing the ball into the goal to the eruption of the home crowd. 

From there Ivory Coast took over, dominating possession and setting up a number of opportunities in extra time. It wasn’t until Diakité’s late winner however that they would be able to take the lead. From there even though they had only 9 men on the pitch, they were able hold off Mali to secure their semi final berth.

Both teams had a total of 11 shots, four of which were on goal for Mali and three for Ivory Coast. 

Ivory Coast are aiming for their third AFCON title on home turf but will need to go through a solid DR Congo team to get there. Congo drew all three group games and then eliminated Egypt on penalties in the Round of 16. They then went on to secure their first 90-minute victory against Guinea, 3-1, in the last round of the AFCON.

A couple of the key players to watch out for in the DR Congo vs Ivory Coast match up are Franck Kessie and Yoane Wissa. 

Frank Kessie, an Ivory Coast midfielder, has been coming up huge this AFCON campaign, spearheading the team’s offense. DR Congo has proved they have one of the toughest defenses to get past, which will make Kessie’s play all the more impactful. For Ivory Coast to be successful he will need to create opportunities for his forwards.  

Yoane Wissa is known for being one of the more athletic football players in the world. The DR Congo forward has a blend of speed, strength, energy, and endurance which make him a threat to any opposition. Wissua scored the second goal in their win against Guinea and has been creating a number of chances for his team throughout the competition.

Ivory Coast will come in the semi final as favourites with both momentum and home field advantage. They have won six of their last 10 games, compared to DR COngo, who have only won 3, across competitions.

It should be noted that the hosts will not have Oumar Diakite or Odilon Kossounou, after both were suspended for receiving red cards against Mali.  On the bright side, Sebastien Haller, who has recovered from an ankle injury, might get the green light to start.

In terms of head to head matchups there have been 15 matches in total between the two teams. Ivory Coast has won 6 of the contests, DR Congo have won 4 and the other 5 matches ended in a draw.

Predicted lineup for and DR Congo & Ivory Coast

Ivory Coast predicted lineup:

Fofana, Aurier, Diomande, Ndicka, Konan;, S. Fofana, Sangare, Kessie, Kouame, Haller, Boga

DR Congo predicted lineup

Mpasi, Kalulu, Mbemba, Batubinsika, Masuaku, Pickel, Moutoussamy, Silas, Kakuta, Kalala, Wissa

Scheduled Kick-Off:

Thursday; 8 February 2024, 20:00 (GMT) 

Location: Alassane Ouattara Stadium