The 2023 Africa Cup of Nations officially gets underway on Saturday as hosts Ivory Coast meet Guinea-Bissau in the first match of the competition from Group A.
Group A will be difficult to navigate for all involved, with no clear favourite to top the standings and two difficult lower-tier challengers in the mix. Ivory Coast will hope their home-field advantage gives them a boost, but Nigeria looms as a possible challenger for the top spot.
In addition, 88th-ranked Equatorial Guinea will be a tough out, and Guinea-Bissau lurks as a difficult Pot 4 contender, looking for their first-ever victory in an AFCON match. The latter only made their debut in this competition six years ago, but have qualified for each of the last three, indicating they are looking to establish themselves as long-term contenders.
No host has won the Africa Cup of Nations crown since Tunisia and Egypt both did it in back-to-back tournaments in 2004 and 2006.
Ivory Coast vs Guinea-Bissau prediction, odds
- Moneyline lean: Ivory Coast (-390)
- Score prediction: Ivory Coast 1-0 Guinea-Bissau
The struggle here will be for Guinea-Bissau to find a way past Ivory Coast’s notable impenetrable defensive unit. The Elephants are prone to the occasional slip, as evident by their 3-0 defeat to Zambia in AFCON qualifying last summer, but on the whole, they are stout at the back.
Meanwhile, Guinea-Bissau scored just five goals through their seven matches across the 2023 calendar year, and they controversially left 28-year-old winger Jorginho off the AFCON roster despite his three goals in qualifying which was tied for joint-most on the squad.
You will notice throughout the Africa Cup of Nations that goal totals are skewed heavily towards the under, as bettors must reconfigure their thinking a bit given that African football is generally lower scoring than many are used to. For example, the 2021 AFCON tournament averaged just 1.9 goals per match throughout the tournament, thanks in large part to Egypt’s insane run of 0-0 draws through the knockout stage.
|Ivory Coast win
to score Y/N
|+180 / -240
|Over / Under
|-110 / -130
Ivory Coast vs Guinea-Bissau match facts
- Date: Saturday, Jan. 13, 2024
- Kickoff Time: 8 p.m. local (3 p.m. ET / 12 p.m. PT)
- Location: Alassane Ouattara Stadium (Ebimpe, Ivory Coast)
- Last meeting: None (First meeting)
Ivory Coast vs Guinea-Bissau: best bet
- Pick: Highest scoring half — 1H
- Odds: +190 (DraftKings)
While a defensive battle is likely on the whole, hometown favourites Ivory Coast will want to jump on their opponent early to make things less tense throughout. Given the excitement of the occasion, some added adrenaline can be expected from both sides at the opening whistle before nerves are calmed.
Given Ivory Coast pummeled Sierra Leone 5-1 in their pre-tournament friendly, with three goals before halftime, it’s clear the Elephants hope to come out of the gates with their attack in focus. Going back to AFCON qualifying, Ivory Coast put forth the same strategy, scoring first-half goals against Lesotho as well as both games against Comoros.
Ivory Coast vs Guinea-Bissau prop bet
- Pick: Franck Kessie anytime goalscorer
- Odds: +280 (DraftKings)
With so few goals scored in this competition, betting on the Africa Cup of Nations is an extremely difficult prospect. It makes goal scorer selections that much more perilous while many other goal-centric picks suffer the same fate. So when doing so, reaching for longshot odds doesn’t feel like as risky a proposition as all picks come with increased pitfalls, thus making the less likely outcomes more enticing.
A player who will be crucial to Ivory Coast’s prospects on home soil is Franck Kessie, who is in great goal-scoring form for club and country. He has six goals in 19 matches for Al Ahly this season from midfield, and he bagged the team’s second in their 5-1 pre-tournament friendly victory over Sierra Leone last week.
Knowing Sebastian Haller is still recovering from injury and his participation is in question, Ivory Coast will need to find goals from elsewhere, and Kessie is a great pick to step up from midfield and have a strike.
Ivory Coast vs Guinea-Bissau live stream, TV channel
|beIN Sports, beIN Sports en Espanol
|Fubo USA, beIN Sports Connect, Fanatiz
|beIN Sports, beIN Sports en Espanol
|Fubo Canada, beIN Sports Connect, Fanatiz
|Sky Sports Football
|Sky Go Extra
In both the United States and Canada, the entirety of the 2024 Africa Cup of Nations will be broadcast by beIN Sports in both English and Spanish. beIN Sports is available to stream on Fubo in both the U.S. and Canada.
In the United Kingdom, Sky Sports has acquired the broadcast rights to the Africa Cup of Nations, with this match between the Ivory Coast and Guinea-Bissau to air on Sky Sports Football.