AFCON 2013: Ivory Coast v Togo Preview
Captain Didier Drogba will once again lead the Elephants, as they seek to add to their single title from 1992.
Togo’s build-up was dominated by striker Emmanuel Adebayor’s delayed decision to turn out for the Hawks.
And the Tottenham striker will be hoping to lead his side to the knock-out stage for the first time.
Adebayor’s team-mates insist his late return to the squad has not damaged team unity.
“It’s good news for us because he’s a big player and our best player,” defender Serge Akakpo, who plays for Slovak club Zilina, told BBC Sport.
“We are really happy to have him here and he will help us to do something I’m sure.
“He’s the leader of the team, he tries all the time to push everyone to the limit and that’s good for us.”
Aside from Adebayor, the Togolese will rely on the talents of French-based players like Nantes striker Serge Gakpe, Lille’s 22-year-old forward Kalen Damessi and the Ayite brothers – Floyd and Jonathan.
The Ivorians’ line-up, meanwhile, is littered with names from the English Premier League, among them Manchester City’s Toure brothers – Kolo and Yaya – and Newcastle’s Cheick Tiote.
Ivory Coast coach Sabri Lamouchi:
“We can’t wait to get going, we’re preparing for that. There’s a bit of the good kind of pressure.
“Even if we appear calm, we are working daily. We know there is an expectation for the players at the tournament.
“The last victory dates back 20 years and since then they’ve suffered some hard defeats.”
Togo coach Didier Six:
“We are not afraid of these big teams. This group is difficult, but we have a new generation that want to make a name for itself.
“There is everything to gain and nothing to lose.”