Ivory Coast will start favourites when they host Senegal in the first leg of their 2014 World Cup playoff.
The Elephants have an embarrassment of riches at their disposal from defence to attack, and the likes of Yaya Toure, Didier Drogba, Gervinho and co. will be expected to trump Senegal, looking to make their first World Cup since 2002.
Galatasaray striker Didier Drogba celebrates after scoring against Juventus in the Champions League, October 2
Gervinho has started his career in Serie A with Roma like a house on fire, and the former Arsenal forward has always played a starring role for his country. If the 26-year-old can take his current club form to the playoffs, then Senegal might be in for a long couple of games.
Ivory Coast, though, go into the game in Abidjan in relatively poor form, having won just two of their last six games, while Senegal are unbeaten in five.
That confidence is what the lesser-fancied Senegal will bank on with Sadio Mane insisting his side are capable of upsetting "the best team in Africa."
"They're the best team in Africa, and it's going to be very difficult, but it's a great test for us, because if we qualify for Brazil, we'll have to face major nations no matter what," the midfielder told FIFA.com.
"There's no need to motivate yourself when you're playing against Cote d'Ivoire.
"I've chatted with a few of my teammates -- everyone is really determined to do well. But we're not looking at it as a chance for revenge (after Ivory Coast beat them in the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers); it's just a case of playing in two huge matches that can lead us to the World Cup, which could be a once-in-a-lifetime experience."
Senegal will bank on their forward line of Papiss Cisse, Moussa Sow and Henri Saivet, although the Newcastle striker's form is a concern, with Cisse only netting one goal for the Magpies all season.
Cisse, however, does have four goals in six games in qualifying and the striker's performance will again be key to Senegal getting past Ivory Coast.
Where to watch
The match is scheduled for a 10.30 p.m. (IST) start with no live telecast.
Expected lineups: Ivory Coast: Copa Barry; Angoua, Zokora, Kolo Toure, Boka; Tiote, Toure, Gradel; Gervinho, Drogba, Kalou.
Senegal: Coundoul; Gassama, Kouyate, Sane, Souare; Diame, Gueye, Mane; Cisse, Sow, Henri Saivet.
Prediction: 2-0 to Ivory Coast
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