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Ivory Coast appear nonchalant ahead of Bafana Bafana Afcon meeting

Ivory Coast's head coach Ibrahim Kamara gestures during a press conference.
Ivory Coast's head coach Ibrahim Kamara gestures during a press conference.
Image: Sia KAMBOU / AFP

Ivory Coast‚ in their pre-match press conference‚ gave off such an air of nonchalance on their opening Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) game against Bafana Bafana as to present themselves either bestowed with immense confidence‚ or almost bizarrely disinterested.

So much can be lost in translation.

But the obscurity of Elephants coach Ibrahim Kamara and Tottenham Hotspur right-back star Serge Aurier's answers on the game at Cairo's Al Salam Stadium on Monday (kickoff 4.30pm) left media scratching their heads as to which one it was.

Neither mentioned a single Bafana player‚ nor coach Stuart Baxter and his tactics. It could easily have been a ploy to give absolutely nothing away.

When Kamara replaced Marc Wilmots a year ago‚ after the Belgian failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup‚ his FA said his mandate was to qualify for the 2019 Afcon finals‚ with the aim of building towards trying to win in 2021.

But the coach brings a star-studded combination to Egypt 2019‚ who‚ if things go their way‚ could challenge for the trophy.

Apart from Uefa Champions League finalist Aurier‚ an attacking threat from fullback‚ a frontline of Lille star Nicolas Pépé‚ Crystal Palace's Wilfried Zaha and Wilfried Bony operate in front of a classy central midfield of Jean Michaël Seri (Fulham) and Franck Kessié (AC Milan).

And yet‚ Kamara was not exactly crowing about his team as the overwhelming favourites that they should be against South Africa.

"First‚ South Africa are a great football team. They can defend‚ they can play football‚" he said of Bafana's solid‚ unbeaten qualification campaign.

"They conceded only two goals in the qualification. They are here for their country‚ and they are playing for their country‚ and we are doing the same. So it will be a difficult game.

"Usually we never really approach any game in the same way. So with the information we have on the South African national team we are trying to approach the game properly and get the best result that we can."

Aurier was no more convincing talking up Cote d'Ivoire's Afcon Cup chances.

"The Africa Cup of Nations is a big competition. We are always wanting to defend our flag‚" he said.

"I think all the teams who are in this competition have the same mentality and want to do as well as possible. We have a few days to get ready and get better‚ and we will see what we can do."

And so it went on‚ Ivory Coast almost disturbingly laid back. It did not seem like a planned tactic. But if it was‚ then it turned out highly effective.

Because it was impossible to tell from what Kamara and Aurier were saying if the Elephants are just super-confident‚ so don't need to say much about how good they are‚ or unbelievably lackadaisical.

Looking at the strength of their team on paper‚ Bafana‚ while be hoping for the latter‚ but would be better served preparing themselves for the former.

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