Several quality players will feature in this exciting playoff round where both sides will look to start strong in their last phase before qualifying to Brazil’s tournament next year.
Both sides have been in World Cups recently, as Senegal lived a Cinderella story, reaching the quarter finals in Korea-Japan 2002 while Ivory Coast appeared on both Germany 2006 and South Africa 2010, not being able to get past the group stage.
The Orange Elephants, as Ivory Coast are known, have been one of the most consistent teams in Africa in the last decade, especially thanks to the emergence of several key players in different areas of the field. Kolo Toure on the defense, Yaya Toure on midfield and Didier Drogba up front are the vertebral column of the team, and they are well supported by a strong cast with experience in several European leagues.
Senegal, on the other side, don’t have the same players from the Golden Generation of 2002, but they have managed the renewal pretty efficiently, and even have some elements playing successful in Europe. Their most decisive players for this playoff match are strikers Moussa Sow (Fenerabahce) and Papiss Cisse (Newcastle), as most of the team’s chances will be on their feet in this match.
Prediction: Ivory Coast 3-1 Senegal
The Lions of Teranga won’t be a pleasant visit for the Ivorian side, but the hosts’ greater experience in decisive stages will help them to go through the first leg of this knockout round. The margin won’t be big, but it will be more than enough to give Ivory Coast a solid advantage for the second leg.