Ivory Coast will field a formidable attacking lineup and start as favourites to beat the Democratic Republic of Congo in their African Nations Cup semi-final on Wednesday, but their shaky defence could be severely tested.
Manchester City’s new signing Wilfried Bony, who scored two keys goals in the 3-1 win over top-ranked Algeria in Sunday’s quarter-final, will lead the forward line with Gervinho and Max Gradel, in what is expected to be an explosive display of Ivorian potential.
“If you give Bony good service, you can see he is a fantastic striker,” said coach Herve Renard on the eve of the match at Estadio de Bata.
“My problem is I’ve got so many good attackers and they all believe they should be playing, it’s hard to explain why I’ve left some of them out.”
The Ivorians, however, are notoriously vulnerable in defence as DR Congo showed when they secured a shock 4-3 win in Abidjan in a qualifying match in October.
“There are positives that we can take from that game,” warned DR Congo coach Florent Ibenge.
Both countries will miss midfield muscle with Cheick Tiote out for the Ivory Coast and captain Youssouf Mulumbu absent for the Congolese.
Hosts Equatorial Guinea and Ghana play in the second semi-final in Malabo on Thursday, with the final taking place on Sunday.