AFCON 2019 day four preview: Zaha & Pepe to test South Africa's improving defence
African heavyweights Senegal and Algeria began their respective Africa Cup of Nations campaigns with routine wins over Tanzania and Kenya respectively in Group C on Sunday.
Morocco, the pre-tournament favourites, laboured to an unconvincing win via an 89th-minute Namibia own goal in Group D.
What's in store today? Futaa has the lowdown.
Fixtures & kickoff times (all East African Time) 🗓
- Ivory Coast - champions in 2015 - face South Africa in Cairo at 17:30.
- Tunisia takes on Angola in Suez at 20:00.
- Mali and Mauritania complete the action on day four at 23:00.
Today's danger men & key talking points💫
Ivory Coast vs South Africa 🇨🇮 🇿🇦
Nicolas Pépé is name is on the lips of most managers around Europe after a stunning campaign at Lille last time out. Pépé scored 22 times and laid on 11 assists in 38 appearances for the Ligue 1 runners-up and he's likely to be the man to lead Ivory Coast's younger generation out of Yaya Toure and Didier Drogba's shadows.
That seems an unfair burden to place on the 24-year-old's shoulders, but AFCON 2019 might tell us what we need to know about the talented attacker being trailed by Liverpool & Manchester United.
Pepe has registered four goals in his 10 international appearances and will be key to Ivory Coast's hopes of venturing deep into the tournament. Bafana Bafana must watch out.
Zaha & Pépé will test SA's improved defence 💫
Ivory Coast's elephants will be desperate to claim a third AFCON title and a win over Bafana Bafana on matchday 1 might be crucial, in a difficult group also containing North African giants Morocco. Namibia showed that nothing comes for granted at major tournaments with their performance last night.
Ivory Coast's exciting attack will have to be at its best against a South Africa defence that remained unbeaten in qualifying under Stuart Baxter.
Tunisia vs Angola 🇹🇳 🇦🇴
Tunisia's Naim Sliti was the hero for his club side Dijon last season, scoring three goals as the French side retained their Ligue 1 spot with a 4-2 aggregate play-off win over second-tier side Lens.
Sliti scored four goals to emerge as Tunisia's top scorer in qualifying as the 2004 champions won five of six matches to finish above tournament hosts Egypt in Group J. The creative midfielder might be the key to unlocking Angola's defence this evening.
World number 25 Tunisia in prime position to win Group E ☑️
Tunisia exited the World Cup at the group stage last summer but prepared for the Africa Cup of Nations by defeating World Cup runners-up Croatia 2-1 earlier this month.
Alain Giresse's side arrives in Egypt as the second-highest placed nation in Fifa's world rankings, three places behind Senegal at 25th. They should make a statement here.
Mali vs Mauritania 🇲🇱 🇲🇷
Porto striker Moussa Marega proved he can deliver on football's biggest stages as he finished as the joint-third top-scorer in this season's Champions League with six goals.
Marega will need to improve on his record of two goals in 18 caps, however, as the spearhead of his country. How will he get on against Mauritania?
A tough day for Mauritania on debut? 😓
Corentin Martins' Mauritania side has already watched fellow debutants Burundi and Madagascar make life difficult for Nigeria and Burundi respectively on matchday 1, and that could be a blueprint for them to follow here.
Mauritania now sits at 103rd in the world and are massive outsiders here. FC Porto's Marega and new Southampton signing Moussa Djenepo will hope to put them to the sword.
Read more: Player Profile - Victor Wanyama