World: Africa Cup of Nations
2 - 0
(1 - 0)
Côte d'Ivoire
S. Fofana (4), J. Krasso (58)
By Peter Weis@PeterVicey

N'dicka and Cote d'Ivoire roll over Guinea-Bissau to get AFCON off to cracking start

The 34th edition Africa Cup of Nations is off to a cracking start after hosts Cote d'Ivoire defeated Guinea-Bissau in the tournament's opening match before a packed house at the Alassane Ouattara Stadium in Abidjan.

Neither Borussia Dortmund's Sebastien Haller nor Bayer 04 Leverkusen's Odilon Kossounou featured for the Ivorians in the opener, but Les Elephants were buoyed by a strong performance from former Eintracht Frankfurt star Evan N'dicka. 
The 2015 African continental champions have gotten themselves off to an excellent start in the current Africa Cup of Nations. Hosts of this year's competition Cote d'Ivoire delivered a lively performance before a lively capacity crowd at the Alassane Ouattara Stadium in Abidjan. Neither of the Bundesliga's two Ivorian representatives (Sebastien Haller of Dortmund and Odilon Kossounou of Bayer 04 Leverkusen) featured in the match.

Haller remained absent from head-coach Jean-Louis Gasset's match-day squad due to injury. Kossounou remained on the bench. German club football was nevertheless well represented in the match with former Eintracht Frankfurt star Evan N'dicka starting for Cote d'Ivoire in central defense and former VfB Stuttgart and 1. FC Union Berlin loanee Carlos Mané starting in attack for Ivorian opponents Guinea-Bissau.

Former RC Lens attacking midfielder Seko Fofana helped the hosts rush out to an early lead with an exceptionally strong ball hold-up and finish in the 4th minute. Stuttgart born Jean-Philippe Krasso - who supplied the assist on the first goal - added the 2-0 in the 58th. The "Djurtus" of Guinea-Bissau did wake up offensively in the later stages, but Ivorian keeper Yahia Fofana stood tall to keep his clean sheet.

N'dicka remained a force throughout, amassing nearly 100 touches, connecting with all but one of his 84 passes, and asserting his presence in the box on all Ivorian free-kicks and corners. In just his sixth cap for his his heritage country, the center back put on quite the show. N'dicka's partner in central defense, Ousmane Diomade, also had his moments. It is by no means certain that Kossounou will get his starting role back.

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