Ivory Coast v Eq. Guinea preview
Drogba and Kalou return for Elephants; Balboa leads hosts' attack
Last Updated: February 4, 2012 12:15pm
Drogba: Set to return
Co-hosts Equatorial Guinea face their biggest challenge of the Africa Cup of Nations when they go up against favourites Ivory Coast in the quarter-finals on Saturday.
The Central African minnows have proved one of the surprise packages at this tournament, and only a 1-0 defeat against Zambia in their final Group A game prevented Gilson Paulo's men from progressing to the last eight as group winners.
Ivory Coast, though, will prove much more formidable opponents than Group A flops Libya and Senegal, with the Elephants having recorded a 100 per cent record in Group B, scoring five goals and conceding none.
They may be expected to progress to the semi-finals, but Nzalang Nacional coach Paulo has warned not to write his side off just yet.
"I've never viewed us as underdogs," the Brazilian coach said. "Perhaps people in the media see us as underdogs but we aim to go as far as possible."
Back into the fray
In team news, Francois Zahoui is set to bring his strongest XI back into the fray after the Ivory Coast coach made no fewer than nine changes to the starting team for their final group encounter earlier this week.
That means Chelsea duo Didier Drogba and Salomon Kalou, Manchester City playmaker Yaya Toure and Arsenal winger Gervinho are sure to be utilised from the start, while Toure's brother Kolo is likely to continue the trend of starting every game so far.
Equatorial Guinea will once more be looking to Javier Balboa to lead the team in attack, while Laurence Doe and Iban Iyanga will both be available for selection after they missed the Zambia defeat through suspension.
Full-back David Alvarez is also set to return after being rested in that game.
Africa Cup of Nations Group A
Africa Cup of Nations Group B
Africa Cup of Nations Group C
Africa Cup of Nations Group D