Defending African Cup of Nations champions Cote D’Ivoire, or Ivory Coast, face Sudan in an AFCON qualifying match that will stream live. The holders need to get back on the winning track after suffering a frustrating 0-0 draw to Sierra Leone in September of last year, when the qualifying rounds of the 2017 African Cup of Nations got underway.
The Cup of Nations, or AFCON, returns this week after that six-month hiatus with a flurry of matches that will start to bring some clarity to the qualifying rounds for next year’s continent-wide tournament, to be held in the country of Gabon along the west coast of Equatorial Africa.
Ivory Coast — a traditional African football powerhouse — now sit third in Group I, and have yet to score a goal in two matches. Before they were held by Sierra Leone, they played their opening qualifying match against Gabon in that country’s capital of Libreville, and were held in a scoreless draw.
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The nil-nil affair against Sierra Leone was played in Lagos, Nigeria, due to the outbreak of Ebola in Sierra Leone. But the neutral site did the defending champs no good, at least on offense — though clearly Ivory Coast defenders continue to play solid football.
Finally, Ivory Coast will get to play in front of their home fans on Friday, as they host Sudan at Stade Félix Houphouët-Boigny — the Ivory Coast national football stadium in Abidjan.
Gabon leads the group with four points with Sudan second with three. The two Ivory Coast draws are good enough for two points and third place while Sierra Leone bring up the year with a single point from a draw and a loss.
Watch highlights of last September’s goalless match against Sierra Leone in Nigeria in the video below.
To find out how to watch a live stream of the Cote D’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) vs. Sudan Group I Africa Nations Cup qualifying match, see the streaming links in the final paragraph of this article. Kickoff is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Greenwich Mean Time at Stade Félix Houphouët-Boigny in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, on Friday, March 25.
For Africa football fans in the United States, that live stream will get underway at 12:30 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, 9:30 a.m. Pacific.
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Ivory Coast had expected to get a shot in the arm to its scoring attack when Manchester City star Yaya Touré announced last week that he would rejoin his national side for the Sudan showdown. But then, on Monday, Touré reversed course and chose club over country, staying home to heal an injured heel in hopes that he will be ready for the Manchester City UEFA Champions League clash against Paris Saint-Germain in April.
But another Barclays Premier league player will return to play for the Elephants on Friday, Max Grabel of Bournemouth, who will take on the burden of getting the first goal of the qualifying tournament for his country.
Ivory Coast have dominated the Sudan Nile Crocodiles in international competition, winning seven of eight matchups — and not losing a game against Sudan since 1979.
But Gradel says that without maintaining their focus, his Ivory Coast team could still be vulnerable.
“As African champions we must remain humble because the truth lies on the pitch,” Gradel said on Thursday. “We must remain clear-sighted and focused on our objective.”
Friday’s Cote D’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) vs. Sudan African Nations Cup Group I qualifying match will be carried by the Qatar-based international sports network beIn Sports. Subscribers can watch live online using beIn Connect at this link. But there is a legal, free option to watch the crucial African Nations Cup qualifier live online. BeIn Sports is part of the Sling TV International Sports package, which costs $10 per month. But the first month is free, and the subscription can be cancelled at any time. To access the Sling TV free live sports offer, visit this link. Another list of links to watch the Cote D’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) vs. Sudan match stream live online can be found here.
[Featured Photo By Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images/Getty Images]