Ivory Coast v Senegal

Saturday 12th October – Abidjan (19:00)

Nathan Sinkala & Papiss Demba Cisse

Nathan Sinkala of Zambia tries to tackle Papiss Demba Cisse of Senegal

10 countries in Africa will be involved in preparations that will lead towards their picking the five tickets allocated to Africa for the Brazil 2014 World Cup. The final round of CAF World Cup Qualifying will take place with this week’s matches to be followed by the second legs in mid-November.

The 10 group winners were drawn against each other last month in Cairo with two of Africa’s best, picked for the first fixture. Number one ranked CAF side Ivory Coast will come up against one of the most talented African teams in Senegal. The other four ties will see Ethiopia play Nigeria, Tunisia meet Cameroon, Burkina Faso against Algeria and Ghana take on Egypt.

Didier Drogba & Co. finished top of a group featuring Morocco, Tanzania and Gambia to get here, while Senegal  saw off competition from Uganda, Angola and Liberia. The tie is the first meeting between the sides since their African Cup of Nations qualifier in October last year was abandoned because of fans rioting after Ivory Coast went 6-2 up on aggregate. Senegal, who hosted that match in Dakar, were subsequently disqualified from the 2013 Nations Cup and banned from playing at their national stadium for one year. That ban will still be active when the sides meet for the 16 November second leg of their decider for a place at next year’s final in Brazil, and Senegal have opted to play the game in Casablanca, Morocco.

Kolo Toure has won a surprise recall to the Ivory Coast squad for their World Cup play-off first leg against Senegal. The 32-year-old Liverpool defender, who has not played for the Elephants since March, is among 24 players picked for the 12 October game in Abidjan. St Etienne winger Max Gradel is also included, having recovered from injury. Coach Sabri Lamouchi has also picked experienced pair Didier Drogba and Didier Zokora.

Ivory Coast squad:

Yaya Toure of Ivory Coast

Yaya Toure of Ivory Coast

Goalkeepers: Boubacar Barry (Lokeren), Abdoul Karim Cisse (Africa Sports), Sylvain Gbohouo (Sewe Sport)

Defenders: Jean Akpa Akpro, Serge Aurier (both Toulouse), Arthur Boka (VfB Stuttgart), Benjamin Brou Angoua (Valenciennes), Soulemanye Bamba (Trabzonspor), Viera Diarrassouba (Caykur Rizespor), Kolo Toure (Liverpool), Didier Zokora (Trabzonspor)

Midfielders: Serey Die (Basel), Jean-Jacques Gosso Gosso (Genclerbirligi), Max Gradel (St Etienne), Didier Ya Konan (Hanover 96), Romaric (Bastia), Cheick Tiote (Newcastle United), Yaya Toure (Manchester City)

Forwards: Wilfried Bony (Swansea City), Didier Drogba (Galatasaray), Gervinho (AS Roma), Salomon Kalou (Lille), Giovanni Sio (VfL Wolfsburg), Lacina Traore (Anzhi Makhachkala).

Senegal have undergone a major overhaul since their Nations Cup elimination, appointing former France World Cup midfielder Alain Giresse as coach and dumping top players like Demba Ba of Chelsea. Giresse has not invited the Chelsea player since June and there’s little chance he will return any time soon, following his diminished playing time at Stamford Bridge. They won their World Cup group despite hosting qualifiers in neutral Guinea and Morocco. Newcastle’s Papiss Cisse, who captains the outfit, makes a comeback after serving suspension, but Mame Biram Diouf of Hannover is sidelined due to a knee sprain. The Senegal Football Federation received a sum of 150 million francs (R3.5 million) from the government for preparations ahead of the clash, which includeded a training camp in Paris, France.

Senegal squad:

Goalkeepers: Bouna Coundoul (Ethnikos), Cheikh Ndiaye (Stade Rennes), Issa Ndoye (Creteil)

Defenders: Issa Cissokho, Pape Mison Djilobodji (both Nantes), Lamine Gassama (Lorient), Cheikh Kouyate (Anderlecht), Cheikh Mbengue (Toulouse), Kara Mbodj (Racing Genk), Pape Ndiaye Souare (Lille), Lamine Sane (Bordeaux)

Midfielders: Stephane Badji (Brann Bergen), Mouhamed Diame (West Ham United), Idrissa Gana Gueye (Lille), Alfred Ndiaye (Eskisehirspor), Salif Sane (Hanover 96)

Forwards: Ibrahima Balde (Kuban Krasnodar), Papiss Demba Cisse (Newcastle United), Sadio Mane (Salzburg), Dame Ndoye (Lokomotiv Moscow), Henri Saivet (Bordeaux), Modou Sougou (Evian), Moussa Sow (Fenerbahce).

In Senegal’s away matches in the group stage they drew with Uganda and Angola but managed a win in Liberia. Ivory Coast were strong at home in their first two home matches with comprehensive wins against Tanzania and Gambia and drew their final home match with Morocco after already having qualified for the knockout stages. The last time they met in Abidjan last year, Ivory Coast came from behind twice to defeat Senegal 4-2 with Gervinho, Kalou, Drogba and Gradel cancelling out Ndoye and Cisse’s strikes. Ivory Coast are tipped for another inspired victory over the Teranga Lions.

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