Ivory Coast AFCON 2023 squad reaction: Can they break an 18 year curse?

Ivory Coast have the chance to become the first Africa Cup of Nations host to lift the trophy at the end of it since Egypt’s triumph in 2006. Since then, Ghana, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, South Africa and Cameroon have all failed to win on home soil.

Ivory Coast AFCON 2023 squad

Photo by Icon Sport

Latest Ivory Coast AFCON 2023 outright odds

Ivory Coast AFCON 2023 squad review

Our in depth preview of Ivory Coast’s squad and chances at AFCON 2023, with all but one of our predicted starting lineup making the cut. The player who did miss out, however, is a big one. Wilfried Zaha has not been selected by Jean-Louis Gasset. Zaha has been unavailable for Les Éléphants at most breaks during the last year, and has only played in two friendlies. 

Full Ivory Coast AFCON 2023 squad

Goalkeepers

  • Yahia Fofana (Angers SCO) 
  • Badra Ali Sangare (Sekhukhune United) 
  • Charles Folly (ASEC Mimosas
Serge Aurier is a key man for Ivory Coast – Photo by Icon sport

Defenders

  • Serge Aurier (Nottingham Forest) 
  • Wilfried Singo (AS Monaco) 
  • Obite Ndicka (AS Roma) 
  • Ousmane Diomande (Sporting CP) 
  • Odilon Kossounou (Bayer Leverkusen) 
  • Willy Boly (Nottingham Forest) 
  • Ghislain Konan (Al-Fayha) 
  • Ismael Diallo (Hajduk Split)

Midfielders

  • Idrissa Doumbia (Al-Ahli Doha)
  • Franck Kessie (Al-Ahli) 
  • Ibrahim Sangare (Nottingham Forest) 
  • Seko Fofana (Al Nassr) 
  • Jean Michael Seri (Hull City) 
  • Lazare Amani (Union Saint Gilloise)

Attackers

  • Nicolas Pepe (Trapzonspor)
  • Max-Alain Gradel (Gaziantep) 
  • Simon Adingra (Brighton & Hove Albion) 
  • Karim Konate (RB Salzburg) 
  • Sebastien Haller (Borussia Dortmund) 
  • Oumar Diakite (Stade Reims) 
  • Jonathan Bamba (Celta Vigo) 
  • Jeremie Boga (Nice) 
  • Christian Kouame (Fiorentina) 
  • Jean-Philippe Krasso (Red Star Belgrade)

Surprise inclusions

Nicolas Pepe is trying to reboot his career in Turkey – Photo by Icon sport

Nicolas Pepe is a slight surprise, given Zaha’s rejection, as the former £72m Arsenal man has not appeared in an Ivory Coast squad in a year. Pepe still possesses match winning talent and has scored two goals in four starts for Trabzonspor this season.

26-year-old Ismael Diallo has also received his first call up for this tournament. The left-sided Hadjuk Split defender has been a key part of the Croatian side’s title charge.

In-form players

Odilon Kossounou has been phenomenal for Xabi Alonso’s Bayer Leverkusen side, who are unbeaten atop the Bundesliga. The 22-year-old has played all but one of Leverkusen’s matches this season as a right sided centre-back.

2002-born Simon Adingra has lit up the south coast of England with Brighton this season after a superb season in Belgium last year. Adingra is a speedy, intelligent right winger, but with a smart defensive nose too.

Finally, 19-year-old Karim Konaté will be breathing down Sebastien Haller’s neck for the striking role, as the Dortmund striker is goalless this season. Konaté, on the other hand, is averaging 0.64 goals per game for RB Salzburg, and on his first international start, scored two and assisted two.

Tactical analysis

As hosts, Ivory Coast will play the curtain raiser on AFCON 2023. Their opponent will be Guinea-Bissau. With home support and a 58-place chasm between the pair in FIFA’s world rankings, the hosts will be confident and play an attacking side. But they must be wary, as Guinea-Bissau’s away win to Nigeria showed they are capable of an upset. 

Beware Victor Osimhen – Photo by Icon sport

Next up is Nigeria. The Super Eagles have a similarly talented squad, and will be the first real indication of how deep they will go in the tournament. Such is Nigeria’s attacking threat, that Jean-Louis Gasset may introduce Kossounou into the defence and push Aurier to wing-back.

Ivory Coast will close their group against Equatorial Guinea. The central Africans did not lose a single group game, and defeated World Cup 2022 qualifying side Tunisia. That said, there is a serious disparity in quality, as Equatorial Guinea have just one player in a top five European league.

Current odds

Ivory Coast are currently third favourites to win AFCON, at 7/1. Despite no goals for Borussia Dortmund, Sebastien Haller is fifth favourite for the golden boot, at 10/1.

Ibrahim Sangare is one of three Ivorians currently at Nottingham Forest – Photo by Icon sport

Ivory Coast AFCON trivia

  • Ivory Coast could become the first side since 2006 to win on home soil.
  • Ivorian Laurent Pokou is the second highest scorer at AFCON with 14 goals in 13 games
  • Les Elephants are ranked fifth in the all-time AFCON standings
  • Current Saudi Arabia manager Hervé Renard is the only foreign manager to have won AFCON twice. Once with Ivory Coast in 2015 and once in 2012 with Zambia.
  • Along with Nigeria, Ivory Coast have the most Premier League players in their squad with four.

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William Evans

William Evans is a football and politics fanatic. A first-class graduate of UEA's Broadcast and Digital Journalism MA course, he also achieved a first class degree in politics and media studies during his time at UEA.