Ivory Coast vs. Togo: 5 Things to Know About Their Africa Cup of Nations Match
The final two group games in the first round will take place on January 22, and at last we'll see the attacking delights of the Ivory Coast on our screens.
Their opponents are the unfancied Sparrow Hawks from Togo. Led by English Premier League star Emmanuel Adebayor, the underdogs will hope the Tottenham striker can lead them to an astonishing upset.
Here are five things you need to know before watching the contest.
Ivory Coast Struggle Under Pressure
The Ivory Coast have been an African heavyweight for a number of years now and it's clear this golden generation don't like the pressure heaped on their shoulders.
Their last cup victory—in 1992—hangs over their heads as a ghostly marker for what they've failed to achieve, and Didier Drogba will be desperate to lead his nation to glory during his swan song.
They have the firepower and talent to win this competition hands down, but do they have the mental strength? It will be interesting to see if they can go one further and better their second-place finish to Zambia 12 months ago.
It all starts against Togo.
Sabri Lamouchi Desperate to Get Going
Despite that pressure, Ivory Coast head coach Sabri Lamouchi is desperate for the first whistle to blow.
Speaking to Sky Sports, the Frenchman told reporters:
We can't wait to get going, we're preparing for that. There's a bit of the good kind of pressure. Even if we appear calm, we are working daily.
We know there is an expectation for the players at the tournament, the last victory dates back 20 years, and since then they've suffered some hard defeats.
It's quite often the case that the pre-tournament favourites can't wait for the speculation to stop and the football to start, but there's also some concerning pre-tournament form the Elephants will want to dispense with, too.
Emmanuel Adebayor Is in the Building
There were some odd rumours swirling that Emmanuel Adebayor would not be participating in this year's African Cup of Nations.
However, unlike Adel Taarabt, the Togolese hit man flew to South Africa after his side's 0-0 draw with Queens Park Rangers and is a key part of manager Didier Six's plans.
Aside from Adebayor, Alaixys Romao is the only other household name in the side. Six will be reliant on Adebayor if he wants to progress through the group.
So packed with talent is the Ivory Coast team, just one player in the squad hails from the country's domestic league.
With names such as Didier Drogba, Yaya Toure and Gervinho stealing the limelight on the world's biggest stage, spare a thought for Badra Ali Sangare, who's going to be star-struck all month long.
He's the third-choice goalkeeper, though, so temper your expectations of even catching a glimpse of him.
Togo Just Want a Peaceful Tournament
Here's hoping everything goes well for the Togolese, who haven't had it easy in recent years.
In 2010, the national team withdrew from the competition after their team coach was shot at by Angolan rebels (via BBC.co.uk). Emmanuel Adebayor admitted it was "one of the worst experiences in his life" and promptly retired from international duty until further notice.
Later that year, a "fake" Togo team staged a friendly in Bahrain and lost 3-0 (via BBC.co.uk). The Togolese FA confirmed they were not aware of such a match, crowning off a miserable 12 months.
Let's hope this one's a cracker for all the right reasons.
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