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Michael Taylor 14th Jan 2010 - 19:46

Drogba’s Elephants are due a big performance

The Ivory Coast's 0-0 draw in their opening group game may pale in comparison to some of the other shocks in this year's Africa Cup of Nations, however it was probably the least justified result so far.

Burkina Faso left the Estadio Chimandela in Cabinda with more than a sense of satisfaction as they soaked up 90 minutes of one-way traffic from the tournament favourites.

From kick-off to final whistle Didier Drogba's side threw everything they had at their weaker opponents, barely relenting even when Burkina Faso tried breaking from defence - something they rarely had time to do.

They controlled possession, tempo, where the game was being played and the style yet no way could be found past a relatively untested Daouda Diakite in the under-dogs' net.

The worst thing for the Ivory Coast is that they followed Coach Vahid Halilhodzic's game plan to the letter, everything other than maintaining a bit of composure in the final third that is.

That problem better be rectified quickly though or they may just find they become the biggest first round casualty possible and badly lacking confidence when it comes to South Africa this summer.

Standing in front of them now is a sight they most likely would rather not have seen, a Ghana side bursting at the seams after their opening game against Togo was abandoned.

Inspired by the tremendous Michael Essien, Ghana, like the Ivory Coast, have big ambitions not only at the Cup of Nations but also for the World Cup this year.

Milovan Rajevac's side loves his side to play at a high tempo and in players like Asamoah Gyan and Matthew Amoah he has the talent to work to his strategy.

They break quick and tirelessly run, constantly applying pressure all over the field and often forcing opponents into mistakes.

That's the plan any way, whether they'll be able to induce the Ivory Coast into such mistakes is a far tougher task though.

Les Elephants' are undoubtedly blessed with the best collection of individual talent on the entire continent with Drogba, Salomon Kalou, the Toure brothers and Emmanuel Eboue being the best known around the world.

Nobody could say they don't have great players, they just need to go on and show they can become a great team and there's no better opportunity to show their potential than in a must win game against their biggest group rivals.

A captain's performance is an absolute must from Drogba and it could be that he needs to justify his 10/11 anytime goalscorer price or else his country may be in danger of firing blanks for the second time in two games.

Another Premier League mainstay, Kolo Toure will need to be just as sharp as well with Ghana set to be a massive step-up in attacking class from Burkina Faso.

For many years now Toure has been the stand-out defender in Africa and while he may not have the pace he once did, his years of experience will be essential against Ghana's lively attacking duo.

A clean sheet may not be necessary for the Ivorians to triumph but it certainly wouldn't hinder them and could be a great value bet at 21/20.

As for the slight under-dog Ghanaians their best chance should come from driving out of defence and trying to catch their opponents cold - it's a game plan they've used before to great effect.

Essien will need to be at his very best, which I expect he will be however the absence of Stephen Appiah in midfield could make Essien's task a thankless one.

Appiah was captain and instrumental in so much of his team's good work, he simply cannot be replaced and is a massive reason for looking away from their 16/5 match betting price.

The Elephants look a much better bet at 10/11 to win the game while I'm looking at any correct score markets that reflect how tight I expect this one to be - 2-1 at 13/2 is the one that stands out to me.



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