What a great Mismatch!

QUICK ON THEIR FEET: Morocco's Oualid Regragui and Ivory Coast's Didier Drogba battle for the ball. © UNKNOWN.
QUICK ON THEIR FEET: Morocco's Oualid Regragui and Ivory Coast's Didier Drogba battle for the ball. © UNKNOWN.

SEKONDI - Mighty Ivory Coast face minnows Benin today in potentially the greatest mismatch of the 2008 Africa Cup of Nations.

SEKONDI - Mighty Ivory Coast face minnows Benin today in potentially the greatest mismatch of the 2008 Africa Cup of Nations.

Morocco overwhelmed Namibia 5-1 three days ago in the most one-sided match so far of the biennial tournament, but the Ivorian "Elephants" are capable of inflicting even greater damage on the Beninois "Squirrels".

The contrast between the 23-man Group B squads is stark, with the Ivory Coast building their team around stars from English Premiership title contenders Arsenal and Chelsea and Spanish La Liga giants Barcelona.

Kolo Toure is the defensive kingpin, fellow "Gunner" Emmanuel Eboue operates on the right of midfield in close proximity to Barcelona "enforcer" Yaya Toure, and Chelsea supply the strike force of Didier Drogba and Salomon Kalou.

Benin include the oldest participant at this Afcon, 37-year-old Alain Gaspoz, who quit professional football last year and is now player-coach of an amateur Swiss club.

Though born in the landlocked central European country, wide defender Gaspoz qualifies because his mother hails from the tiny west African nation surrounded by Togo and Nigeria.

Midfielder Romuald Bocco plays for English fourth division club Stanley Accrington and French Ligue 1 club Rennes thought defender Achille Rouga was on vacation in Benin when he trained with Benin in Brazil.

But despite a 1-0 opening round victory over Nigeria on Monday in the clash of giants, Ivory Coast coach Gerard Gili has warned his stars that complacency could pose the biggest threat.

"We have to be as professional when preparing to play Benin as we were ahead of the match against Nigeria. There is a need to be more compact and every player needs to be available for his teammates."

Benin must know their best chance of a first Afcon victory disappeared when losing 1-0 to Mali. - Sapa-AFP

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