Ivory Coast, Zambia Begin 2023 AFCON Qualifying Race Friday

Ivory Coast, Zambia Begin 2023 AFCON Qualifying Race Friday

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By Our Correspondent

Former champions and host Ivory Coast will begin their 2023 Africa Cup of Nations AFCON qualifying race against 2012 winners, Zambia on Friday.

Although Ivory Coast are the hosts of the 34th edition of the continental biennial football showpiece and have qualified automatically, both nations get their 2023 qualification campaign underway when they square off at the 20, 000 capacity Stade de Yamoussoukro in Ivory Coast in Group H on Friday.

The Chipolopolo will be looking to return to the continental showpiece after missing out earlier this year, while the hosts are eying their 10th consecutive AFCON appearance.

Zambia’s first Competitive game since the turn of the year, with their most recent outing coming last November, when they fell to a 3-1 defeat against Tunisia in Group B of the World Cup qualifiers.

The Chipolopolo, who are yet to make an appearance at the World Cup, won two and lost three of their group outings to pick up seven points and finish third in the group standings.

Zambia, who stunned the continent to claim the AFCON crown at the expense of Ivory Coast in 2012, have also failed to qualify for the continental showpiece since 2015, when they were sent packing in the group stages.

Aljosa Asanovic’s side head into the weekend on a run of four victories from their last 12 games on the road since the start of 2020, losing five and picking up three draws in that time.

The Southern African nation will fancy their chances of returning to winning ways and kicking off their qualification campaign on a high as they take on an opposing side who they are unbeaten against in three of their last four encounters since 2009.

Zambia won the 2012 AFCON while Ivory Coast won the tournament the second time in their history in 2915 after defeating Ghana 9–8 in a penalty shoot-out with the match ending goalless after extra time

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