Our event of the day is the Africa Cup of Nations clash between Ivory Coast and South Africa at the Al Salam Stadium in Cairo Governorate, Egypt. These two heavyweights have been pitted together in an intriguing looking Group D, with Morocco and Namibia making up the numbers. Though this afternoon’s clash will represent the sides’ first outing at the competition, it could ultimately prove a crucial match up with one of either Ivory Coast or South Africa likely to top the group. Ivory Coast have enjoyed a largely positive warm up to the AFCON, comfortably beating both Zambia and Comoros earlier in the month. Though they did lose out to Uganda in their second warm up fixture, coach Ibrahim Kamara will not be too disheartened by the loss, with many of his stars being rested on the day. Key man Wilfried Zaha missed out that day, but the Crystal Palace winger is in the AFCON squad and will likely feature heavily in their opening affair today. The Ivorian notched ten times for Palace last term, registering five assists to boot, and he will be crucial to the Ivory Coast Elephants’ hopes of progression from Group D. After lifting their first AFCON title in 23 years back in 2015, Ivory Coast flattered to deceive last time out, failing to win a single game at the 2017 edition.
Though Kamara has employed a largely young and inexperienced squad, it is one filled with talent and they will likely fancy their chances at cultivating a deep run this time round. South Africa meanwhile cannot boast the big names in their ranks like today’s adversaries can, with most of their squad playing club football in their home country. However, a lack of superstars isn’t necessarily synonymous with failure, as they proved in qualification, being just one of five teams to go the entire campaign unbeaten. This will surely put them in good stead as they make the long journey to Egypt, going in search of just their second ever Africa Cup of Nation’s title. In recent editions, Bafana Bafana have failed to make themselves heard at this competition, failing to progress past the Quarter-final stage since 2000, on which occasion they finished third. After failing to even qualify for the 2017 tournament, the South Africans will be desperate to make a name for themselves on the international stage as this festival of football continues. Don’t miss today’s match.
Honourable mentions around the globe go to the Cricket World Cup as Afghanistan take on Bangladesh in Game 31 at The Rose Bowl in Southampton. Bangladesh currently reside sixth in the standings and just three points behind fourth placed England so remain well in the hunt for a Semi-final spot. Meanwhile, Afghanistan are still in search of their first win of the campaign and will be desperate to get off the mark in Southampton today. Elsewhere, the Copa America continues today with two heavyweight clashes as Uruguay face Chile and Japan do battle with Ecuador. At the U21 European Championships, England will entertain Croatia with both sides knowing their fate is already sealed having both lost their opening two group games. There is plenty of entertainment on offer today at the European Games in Minsk, with Russia looking to extend their lead atop the medal table as there are medal events in both the Basketball and Judo to watch out for. Finally, in the MLB, the high-flying New York Yankees are in action as they welcome the Toronto Blue Jays to Yankee Stadium for what is set to be an epic encounter.
Whatever you’re watching, enjoy!
Photos by Wilfried Zaha; Thulani Hlatshwayo
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