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AFCON 2021: Elephants target back-to-back wins in Group E

Ivory Coast will be looking to make it two wins from two in Group E when they face Sierra Leone at the Japoma Stadium on Sunday.

Kick-off is at 6pm CAT (SA, GMT+2)

The Elephants began their quest for a third Africa Cup of Nations title by beating Equatorial Guinea 1-0 on Wednesday, with Max Gradel’s fifth-minute goal proving to be the difference in Douala.

Patrice Beaumelle’s side top their group by two points after defending champions Algeria failed to break down a stubborn Leone Stars on Tuesday.

The Ivorians were crowned champions of Africa as recently as 2015 to add to their success of 1992. They were runners-up in 2006 and 2012 and reached the quarterfinals last time out in Egypt.

Beaumelle admitted the National Thunder made them sweat in midweek and he expects another stern test from their next two opponents.

“Equatorial Guinea has made us suffer and I am not at all surprised even if our adversary remains ourselves,” the French tactician said in his post-match interview.

“It was difficult but we will hold back the victory and this group will be difficult until the end, Sierra Leone and the Equatorial Guinea are not stooges, they deserve their qualification for this competition.”

Sierra Leone qualified for the showpiece event for only the third time in their history following back-to-back appearances in 1994 and 1996.

John Keister’s team gave themselves every chance of advancing to the knockout stages for the first time after holding the tournament favourites to a goalless draw in their group opener.

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Keister has urged his players to build on their performance against the Fennec Foxes and make history by advancing from the group.

“We have to fight and grow this group. And since our arrival, we have been working to move forward,” the former Sierra Leone international told the press.

“There’s no point in having a great game today and letting the other games slip away, it’s at the end of the tournament that we’ll know if we’re the surprise. We take game after game.”

In head-to-head meetings, Ivory Coast are undefeated in their four previous encounters, having recorded two wins and two draws. Their most recent clash finished 1-1 during the 2017 Afcon qualifying campaign.

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