2019 AFCON Qualifiers: Zaha leads star studded Elephants against CAR

Franck Kessie of the Ivory Coast in action during the International Friendly match between the Netherlands and Ivory Coast held at De Kuip or Stadion Feijenoord on June 4, 2017 in Rotterdam, Netherlands.  (June 3, 2017 - Source: Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images Europe)

Franck Kessie of the Ivory Coast in action during the International Friendly match between the Netherlands and Ivory Coast held at De Kuip or Stadion Feijenoord on June 4, 2017 in Rotterdam, Netherlands.

(June 3, 2017 - Source: Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images Europe)

Things will get heated in the men’s 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers over the next couple of days. We are spoiled with two legged fixtures (matchday 3 and 4) for all the participants with the first leg coming to our screens as early as Wednesday, 10th of October and the final matches of the second legs finishing one week later. This means that a crucial six points is up for grabs for all teams and also at risk of slipping away. One of the leading narratives leading into the much anticipated fixtures is that of Zaha and his Ivory Coast countrymen.

Wilfried has been recalled to Ibrahim Kamara’s squad perhaps in hope that the pride of Crystal Palace help deliver the goods needed for the 2015 AFCON winners as they meet an unpredictable Central African Republic over two legs. Ivory Coast and CAR are currently tied on three points in group H, behind Guinea who won all their opening two matches of the AFCON 2019 qualifiers. Guinea will be expected to beat the weakest ranked team in the group, Rwanda who are yet to secure a point so far, henceforth the need for the Elephants and the Wild Beast to battle it out for the other spot in next year’s finals.

Ibrahim Kamara will be keen on his troops securing an eighth consecutive Africa Cup of Nations finals qualification dating back to Egypt 2006 and players like Zaha who is yet to score an international goal in a competitive match are believed to have the hunger the Ivorians need for success. The Crystal Palace forward will join hands with other premier league stars in Fulham’s Jean Michel Seri, Tottenham’s Serge Aurier and Eric Bailly of Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United. Lyon’s Maxwell Cornet who scored as his side downed Manchester City 2-1 in the UEFA Champions League is also amongst the forwards and AC Milan’s youngster turned midfield general, Franck Kessie will be among the stars to anchor the middle of the park. Speaking of the midfield, it will by no means be a walk in the park for the Elephants as CAR has been boosted by the Valencia man, Geoffrey Kondogbia who just switched allegiance from France to the central African nation. A win over both legs will secure qualification for Ivory Coast, but will it be so? CAR will also be eyeing the same prize.

Jean Michael Seri of the Ivory Coast in action during the International Friendly match between the Netherlands and Ivory Coast held at De Kuip or Stadion Feijenoord on June 4, 2017 in Rotterdam, Netherlands.  (June 3, 2017 - Source: Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images Europe)

Jean Michael Seri of the Ivory Coast in action during the International Friendly match between the Netherlands and Ivory Coast held at De Kuip or Stadion Feijenoord on June 4, 2017 in Rotterdam, Netherlands.

(June 3, 2017 - Source: Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images Europe)

The first match will be on Friday, 12th of October whereas the return follows on Tuesday at Barthelemy Boganda Stadium in CAR.


Here is Ivory Coast’s squad for the CAR clash

Goalkeeper: Ali Badra Sangare (Free State Stars/RSA)), Sylvain Gbohouo (TP Mazembe/COD), Abdoul Karim Cisse (ASEC Mimosas), Nicolas Tie (Chelsea/ENG)

Defenders: Serge Aurier (Tottenham/ENG), Eric Bailly (Manchester United/ENG), Mamadou Bagayoko (Mechelen/BEL), Ghislain Konan (Reims/FRA), Adama Traore (Goztepe/TUR), Kouadio-Yves Dabila (Lille/FRA), Wilfried Kanon (ADO Den Haag/NED), Ismael Traore (Angers/FRA)

Midfielders: Ibrahim Sangare (Toulouse FC/FRA), Jean Michael Seri (Fulham/ENG), Cheick Doukoure (Levante/ESP), Franck Kessie (AC Milan/ITA) Serey Die (FC Basel/SUI), Victorien Angban (Metz/FRA)

Forwards: Jonathan Kodjia (Aston Villa/ENG), Roger Assale (Young Boys Bern/SUI), Nicolas Pepe (Lille/FRA), Max-Alain Gradel (Toulouse/FRA), Vakoun Bayo (Dunajska Streda/SVK), Maxwel Cornet (Lyon/FRA), Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace/ENG).


Central African Republic’s squad for the clash:

Goalkeepers: Geoffrey Lembet (unattached), Elvis Samolah (Les anges de Fatima), Samolah Prince (SCAF)

Geoffrey Kondogbia of Valencia is challenged by Alexis Sanchez of Manchester United during the Group H match of the UEFA Champions League between Manchester United and Valencia at Old Trafford on October 2, 2018 in Manchester, United Kingdom.  (Oct. 1, 2018 - Source: Michael Regan/Getty Images Europe)

Geoffrey Kondogbia of Valencia is challenged by Alexis Sanchez of Manchester United during the Group H match of the UEFA Champions League between Manchester United and Valencia at Old Trafford on October 2, 2018 in Manchester, United Kingdom.

(Oct. 1, 2018 - Source: Michael Regan/Getty Images Europe)

 Defenders: Cédric Yambere (Dijon, France), Eloge Enza-Yamissi (unattached), St-Cyr Ngam NGgam (DFC8), Thibault Ban (Les anges de Fatima), Manassé Enza-Yamssi (Annecy, France), Fernander Kassai (FC Tobol, Kazakhstan), Nicaise Zimbori (Coton Sport, Cameroon), Salif Keita (Erbil, Iraq),

 Midfielders: Geoffrey Kondogbia (Valencia, Spain), Franklin Anzite (PKNP, Malaysia), Amos Youga (Le Havre, France), Vivien Mabide (Tétouan, Morocco), David Manga (Levadiakos, Greece), Trésor Toropite and, Junior Gourrier (both DFC8), Ralph Kottoy, (Petrocub, Moldava)

 Forwards: Foxi Kethevoama (Balikesirsport, Turkey), Frédéric Nimami (Neuchatel Xamax, Switzerland), Louis Mafouta (Chambly, France), Hilaire Momi and Quentin Ngakoutou (both unattached)