Group D will see both of its table toppers meet on Friday as Morocco attempt to overtake their opponents on the standings, with the pair currently joint leaders having come out as victors in their opening clashes. Ivory Coast came through their matchup with South Africa uncathed in a solid 1-0 victory, while Morocco repeated that same scoreline versus Namibia, leaving the group wide open. Should Ivory Coast take maximum points here, it will be the first time they have beaten Morocco since 2016 after two stalemates and one win in favour of the second-placed side last time out.
Morocco didn’t enjoy a particularly successful warm up to the AFCON in terms of results, suffering defeats in three of the friendlies immediately prior to the tournament’s opening day. First, it was Argentina who took home a 1-0 win, and in their first friendly of June Gambia managed to net the only goal of the day through Musa Barrow just under half an hour into the affair. A majorly disappointing 2-3 loss at the hands of Zambia four days afterwards was expected to demolish any remaining confidence within the camp, but Morocco proved to be resilient against Namibia and were rewarded for their efforts in the 89th minute when Itamunua Keimuine hit into his own net and grant Morocco a much needed win in a mostly positive performance overall.
For the Ivory Coast, things could not have gone much better. Wins over Liberia, Comoros and Zambia in the lead up to the competition provided them with an excellent platform from which they could continue their great form onto the main stage. The sole downside to their displays during the last few weeks came versus Uganda, where their opponents took a 1-0 victory and surprised many who watched the game. A 1-4 demolition of Zambia soon put that setback behind them though as Jonathan Kodjia and Jean Michael Seri bagged in the first half, followed by two more from Maxwel Cornet and Wilfried Bony late on. The fixture against South Africa could not have been any bigger in many ways, with the two arguably the best regarded African football teams on the continent. Kodjia grabbed the winner twenty-five minutes from time and South Africa failed to find a reply, meaning that Ivory Coast are now in a strong position heading into the penultimate group stage game this Friday.
Moroccon attacker Khalid Boutaib may be forced to the sidelines due to injury for this one after picking up a knock during a training session on Tuesday, and failed to train at all the next day. The rest of the squad are expected to be fit, with Morocco unlikely to change from their winning formation of 4-2-3-1 that worked ever so well against Namibia. Nordin Amrabat, Mbark Boussoufa and Hakim Ziyech will probably start as the attacking midfield trio again, with stalwart Medhi Benatia leading the defensive set up.
Ivory Coast have a fully fit squad to utilize for this meeting with Morocco, which will be a big boost for manager Ibrahim Kamara. In the opener against South Africa, Ivory Coast opted for a similar formation to their upcoming opponents and rivals for the groups number one spot in a 4-2-3-1. We expect Serge Aurier to retain his place in right back and Franck Kessie will likely start alongside Geoffrey Serey Die. Much lauded winger Nicolas Pepe will be one to watch on the right wing, and Kodjia will be hoping to add to his tally after getting on the scoresheet first time around.
Neither of these two sides obliterated their respective opposition in their opening matches of this year’s AFCON as both won by a solitary goal. Despite that, recent form indicated that Ivory Coast are in a goal-scoring mood and Moroccon players have actually scored in only one of their last four games, with Namibia midfielder Keimuine putting into his own net to see them take three points in the first outing. On the opposite end of the scale, Ivory Coast have bagged eight goals in their last three matches, so Skybet’s odds of 17/2 for Ivory Coast to score 3+ in this encounter looks good to us.
With Morocco struggling to get amongst the goals and Ivory Coast quite the contrary, it does not appear that anything other than an Ivory Coast victory is on the cards. It would actually come as something of a shock if Morocco were to score more than once, and Skybet have Ivory Coast to win to nil at an impressive 3/1 right now, which is a bet we cannot recommend enough.
We’re predicting a 0-3 scoreline in favour of Ivory Coast based on the evidence both sides have provided us with. Morocco have not scored with a member of their squad in four of the last five fixtures, with Ziyech being the only individual to net in that time. Ivory Coast on the other hand, have hit three past Comoros and Zambia in two of their last three matches so we would not put it against them doing it again here. Skybet have a 0-3 result to Ivory Coast at 28/1.