By Beng Emmanuel
The final first round games of the ongoing 2021 Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon are in action today.
There will be just a single fixture in group E after the Algeria vs Sierra Leone clash on Tuesday. In group F Gambia are set to make their debut and Tunisia shall battle with Mali in the day’s cracker.
Tunisia vs Mali [Limbe Omnisport Stadium]
Tunisia will hope to make a bright start in the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations after the debacle start of their North African brothers Algeria who were held to a goalless stalemate by Sierra Leone and Egypt that lost to Nigeria in their opening matches.
But the 2004 champions are aware that Mali- that are yet to win the Afcon-will come strong at them. The Eagles who have participated in every edition of the Nations Cup since 2008 are keen to end their trophy drought.
They will greatly rely on the skills of their Southampton midfielder Moussa Djenepo, and Yves Bissouma of Brighton and Hove Alvion. Tunisia will also count on Saint Etienne’s Wahbi Khazri, and Al Ahly left back Ali Maaloul to make the difference.
Mauritania vs Gambia [Limbe Omnisport Stadium]
This is the clash between the least experienced sides and underdogs of the group F with both of them searching for their first ever win at the Nations Cup.
Mauritania made their maiden appearance at the Afcon in 2019 when Egypt staged the event and are still in the hunt for their first win in the competition after recording two draws and a defeat two years ago.
Their long wait to celebrate a win at the Africa Cup of Nations could come today when they face an ambitious Gambian side making their debut. The Scorpions are ready to sting and avoid defeat like fellow newcomers Comoros.
Equatorial Guinea vs Cote D’Ivoire [Japoma Stadium, Douala]
Algeria’s draw with Sierra Leone on Tuesday means the winner of today’s game pitting Equatorial Guinea and Cote D’Ivoire will take the lead in group E.
The Elephants of Ivory Coast will be without the number one goalkeeper Sylvain Gbohouo after he was suspended by FIFA for an alleged doping violation. However, they are still a great threat for Equatorial Guinea with the presence of Sebastien Haller, Wilfried Zaha, Nicolas Pepe, Max Gradel and Franck Kessie.
Despite the wealth of talent in the Ivorian team, Equatorial Guinea, quarter-finalist in 2012 are determined to impress on their return to the competition after missing out in 2017 and 2019.
2pm: Tunisia vs Mali [Limbe Omnisport Stadium]
5pm : Mauritania vs Gambia [Limbe Omnisport Stadium]
8pm: Equatorial Guinea vs Cote D’Ivoire [Japoma Stadium, Douala]