South Africa and Ivory Coast lock horns in their opening 2019 Africa Cup of Nations fixture on Monday.
The two sides will resume a rivalry that stretches back over two decades. The Elephants won the tournament in 2015, but have hit a bit of a slump in form since then, largely due to an aging squad.
But the Ivory Coast have a rich footballing history and impressive tournament pedigree, most notably when it comes to scoring hat-tricks.
Their coach Ibrahim Kamara sees Nicolas Pepe as one the young stars who can banish the memories of a disastrous Africa Cup of Nations title defence two years ago.
The 2015 champions were held by Togo and the Democratic Republic of Congo and lost against Morocco to make an undignified exit from Gabon after the first round.
Kamara hopes Pepe, the 22-goal second highest French Ligue 1 scorer last season behind superstar Kylian Mbappe, can ensure there is no repeat of that debacle in Egypt.
It’s been slow going for Ivory Coast, though, and it’ll take some doing to revive the free-scoring that was a trademark of their game in years gone by.
While there hasn’t been a hat trick at the Africa Cup of Nations for over a decade, Ivory Coast has made a substantial contribution to that overall list.
South Africa, meanwhile, can’t boast of such great feats.
Hat tricks at the Africa Cup of Nations for Ivory Coast
- Laurent Pokou vs Ethiopia (1970) – Pokou scored five goals in that 6-1 rout.
- Mangué Cissé* vs Congo (pre DRC, 1965)
- Joel Tiehi vs Sierra Leone (1994)
* Cissé’s name has many variants. He is also sometimes called Eustache Manglé. Accurate statistical accounts for Africa Cup of Nations matches are desperately lacking, however, the result for the match between Ivory Coast is listed as 3-0. On the Wikipedia page for the 1965 tournament, he is listed as the scorer of all three goals with the name variant of “Manglé”. The statistics are taken from the Rec Sport Soccer Statistics Foundation.
Hat tricks at the Africa Cup of Nations for South Africa
Only one South African has ever netted a hat-trick at the Africa Cup of Nations. Benni McCarthy did so vs Namibia in 1998. His feat, with goals coming in the eight, 11th, 19th and 21st minute, remains the fastest hat trick at the Africa Cup of Nations. He also shares the record with Ad-Diba of Egypt as the only players to score all the goals in a match where more than three goals were scored.
This article was published by The South African,
and written by Alexis Haden.
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