Latest Africa Cup of Nations updates as Victor Osimhen starts in Group A clash

The Africa Cup of Nations continues this evening with a much-anticipated battle between Ivory Coast and Nigeria. The result of this match could determine which nation finishes top of Group A. The Ivory Coast currently hold first place following their 2-0 victory over Guinea-Bissau in their Afcon opener and look like a confident force under French boss Jean-Louis Gasset.

Nigeria in contrast slumped to a shock 1-1 draw with Equatorial Guinea last time out. Ivan Salvador opened the scoring for the visitors before the Super Eagles’ talisman, Victor Osimhen, netted an equaliser two minutes later. Nigeria then failed to assert their dominance on the match and could not find a winning goal. They now need to triumph in a trickier contest against the Elephants in order to get their campaign back on track.

Nigeria’s last of their three tournament triumphs came in 2013 with the Ivory Coast becoming champions, for a second time, two years later. However, both nations have underperformed in recent years and will have their sights set on reaching the latter stages of the competition.

Follow along for the live updates plus get the latest Afcon odds and tips right here:

Ivory Coast vs Nigeria LIVE

  • Ivory Coast take on Nigeria in the Africa Cup of Nations

  • The Elephants are currently top of Group A after beating Guinea-Bissau 2-0

  • Nigeria are third following a 1-1 draw with Equatorial Guinea

  • Ivory Coast XI: Y. Fofana; Ndicka, Diomande, Konan; S. Fofana: Aurier, Sangare, Kessie, Kouame; Boga, Krasso

  • Nigeria XI: Nwabali: Aina, Ekong, Ajayi, Bassey, Zaidu, Onyeka, Iwobi, Lookman; Chukwueze, Osimhen

Ivory Coast vs Nigeria

16:55 , Mike Jones

Ivory Coast have made two changes for today’s game.

Nottingham Forest’s Serge Aurier replaces Wilfried Singo at right-back, and Christian Kouame comes in for Jonathan Bamba on the left wing.

Meanwhile, Nigeria winger Samuel Chukwueze replaces Moses Simon on the right flank, with Fulham defender Calvin Bassey replacing midfielder Alhassan Yusuf.

How will Ivory Coast cope?

16:50 , Mike Jones

Galatasaray winger Wilfried Zaha was not called up for the Ivory Coast by manager Jean-Louis Gasset in what was a surprising move.

Sebastien Haller and Simon Adingra have been included in the squad despite struggling with ankle and hamstring issues respectively.

Haller could potentially feature this evening against Nigeria.

Can Nigeria win Afcon?

16:45 , Mike Jones

Nigeria’s strength in depth up front is their main threat. Victor Osimhen is their star player and he will be supported by AC Milan winger Samuel Chukwueze, Atalanta’s Ademola Lookman and more.

If head coach Jose Peseiro can strike the right balance between defence and attack, then Nigeria should go far, but their form over the past 12 months has been underwhelming as was their opening draw against Equatorial Guinea.

What is the format for Afcon?

16:40 , Mike Jones

There are 24 teams, who can name squads of up to 27 players, which are split into six groups of four.

Nigeria have been drawn in Group A with Equatorial Guinea, Guinea-Bissau and hosts Ivory Coast for example. They will play each other once and the top two teams in each group will advance to the knockout stages.

They will be joined by the four best third-placed sides, which means only one-third of the teams get eliminated in the group stages.

The rest of the tournament will be single-legged knockout ties, culminating in the final on Sunday, February 11.

Morocco made to work hard for opening AFCON victory over Tanzania

16:35 , Mike Jones

Goals from Romain Saiss, Azz-Eddine Ounahi and Youssef En Nesyri fired Morocco to a 3-0 win over Tanzania in a one-sided Africa Cup of Nations opener.

Former Wolves defender Saiss struck in the first half but, despite their total dominance, Morocco had to wait until the unfancied Tanzanians were reduced to 10 men late in the second half before finishing them off.

While Morocco could boast the likes of Paris St Germain defender Achraf Hakimi and Manchester United midfielder Sofyan Amrabat, Tanzania started with Tarryn Allarakhia of Wealdstone in attack.

Morocco made to work hard for opening AFCON victory over Tanzania

Afcon schedule, fixtures, results and start times

16:30 , Mike Jones

The Africa Cup of Nations is back as Ivory Coast play host for the second time in the competition’s history.

Of the 24 nations taking part in Afcon, Senegal have been installed as the pre-tournament favourites, with a raft of top players including Sadio Mane, Edouard Mendy, Kalidou Koulibaly and Nicolas Jackson.

But the reigning champions will face stiff competition for the trophy from the team they beat in the final shootout three years ago, Mohamed Salah’s Egypt, as well as Morocco, Algeria, Nigeria, Cameroon and hosts Ivory Coast.

Afcon schedule, fixtures, results and start times

Tonight’s venue

16:25 , Mike Jones

The Alassane Ouattara Stadium, also known as the Olympic Stadium of Ebimpe and previously the National Stadium of the Ivory Coast is the venue for this evening’s match.

It holds 60,012 people and is named after the incumbent Ivorian president.

Victor Osimhen will play in the Premier League ‘one day’

16:20 , Mike Jones

Victor Osimhen has vowed to play in the Premier League “one day”, but he doesn’t know when that day will be.

The Napoli striker is one of the sought-after players in Europe right now and both Arsenal and Chelsea have been linked with a move for the 25-year-old.

But Osimhen, who is currently on international duty at the Africa Cup of Nations with Nigeria, suggested he would not be moving to England imminently.

“Of course one day, definitely, but for now I have other plans in my career I am looking forward to. When the time comes, everyone will know.”

Ivory Coast vs Nigeria

16:15 , Mike Jones

This is the 34th edition of the Africa Cup of Nations and started on January 13 when hosts Ivory Coast beat Guinea-Bissau 2-0.

The biennial competition, which first took place in 1957, sees 24 teams battle it out to be crowned Africa’s champions. At the last Afcon, Senegal beat Egypt on penalties to win the tournament for the first time.

Will Aliou Cisse’s side, led by Sadio Mane and Kalidou Koulibaly, repeat their success?

Napoli striker Victor Osimhen, who won the CAF Men’s Footballer of the Year award in December, will be hoping to guide Nigeria to glory against the hosts tonight.

Ivory Coast line-up

16:13 , Mike Jones

Ivory Coast XI: Y. Fofana; Ndicka, Diomande, Konan; S. Fofana: Aurier, Sangare, Kessie, Kouame; Boga, Krasso

Nigeria line-up

16:05 , Mike Jones

Nigeria XI: Nwabali: Aina, Ekong, Ajayi, Bassey, Zaidu, Onyeka, Iwobi, Lookman; Chukwueze, Osimhen

Ivory Coast vs Nigeria prediction

16:00 , Mike Jones

With the home advantage and following on from their win in the first match it is hard to look past the host nation, but Nigeria will be a tough opponent especially with the knowledge that defeat could see them facing an early exit.

Ivory Coast 2-1 Nigeria.

Early team news

15:55 , Mike Jones

Nigeria were hit with a number of high-profile injuries before the tournament, including losing Wilfred Ndidi and Victor Boniface. It remains to be seen whether Sebastien Haller will be fit enough to play after he missed the first match through injury.

How to watch Ivory Coast vs Nigeria

15:50 , Mike Jones

The match kicks off on Thursday 18 January at 5pm GMT and takes place at the Olympic Stadium of Ebimpe. It will be shown live on Sky Sports Football and Sky Sports Main Event with coverage starting at 4.45pm.

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Ivory Coast vs Nigeria

15:45 , Mike Jones

Good evening and welcome to The Independent’s coverage of tonight’s Africa Cup of Nations clash between Ivory Coast and Nigeria in Group A.

This one should be a battle of heavyweights, and former champions, as the two nations look to secure their places in the knockout stages of the tournament.

Following their victory over Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast are well placed at the top of the group and will ensure a place in the next round should they triumph over the Super Eagles this evening.

Nigeria, meanwhile, must win after they had to settle for a shock 1-1 draw with Equatorial Guinea in their opening match. Three points will send them above Ivory Coast and leave them in a strong position to qualify for the next round.

We’ll have all the latest updates, team news and action from the match so stick with us as we build up to kick off at 5pm.

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