SA v Ivory Coast: History points to a Bafana victory

Wilfried Zaha of Ivory Coast.
Wilfried Zaha of Ivory Coast.

Bafana Bafana may appear to have their backs against the wall as they face Ivory Coast at Al Salam Stadium in Cairo tomorrow (4.30pm), but they cannot be written off.

South Africa meet the Ivorians in Group D of the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations tournament in Egypt.

On paper, the West Africans are a strong team and many could predict a win for them against Stuart Baxter's men.

Realistically, Bafana also have a good chance. Not only are the two countries closely matched in terms of Fifa rankings - Ivory Coast are placed 11th on the continent and Bafana 14th, but Bafana have had the edge in previous meetings between the two sides.

In six matches, Bafana have won two and there have been four draws. The countries have met three times in friendlies and a further three in official matches, including in the group stage of the 1998 Afcon (see sidebar).

Percy Tau of Bafana Bafana.
Percy Tau of Bafana Bafana.

Ivory Coast, admittedly, have some top players in top European leagues such as Serge Aurier (Tottenham Hotspur), Franck Kessié (AC Milan) and Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace), while Bafana don't have players in those leagues.

Bafana, however, also have players who can compete in Thulani Hlatshwayo, Thulani Serero, Percy Tau and Bongani Zungu, just to mention a few.

Overall, this makes for an interesting battle with Ivory Coast looking to break their duck against Bafana and the latter looking to maintain their unbeaten record.

Whatever you do, don't write off Bafana Bafana.

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