Sports Mole previews Friday’s World Cup Qualifying – Africa clash between Ivory Coast and Seychelles, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Ivory Coast will get their CAF World Cup qualification campaign underway this week when they take on the Seychelles at Stade Olympique Alassane Ouattara in Abidjan on Friday evening.
Ranked ninth among all African teams according to FIFA, Ivory Coast come into this competition as the favourites to win this group and to go on to reach the 2026 FIFA World Cup main draw. ...Click Here To Continue Reading>>
The Elephants missed out on qualification by two points in the last edition of the World Cup, beaten by Cameroon, who went on to deny Algeria a spot in the premier international football tournament in the final round of qualifying.
However, the hosts have been much improved since then, having reached the last 16 of the CAF African Nations Championship earlier in the year and finishing second in their group in the AFCON qualifiers, which they participated in despite earning automatic qualification as the host nation.
Ivory Coast are now unbeaten in their last three matches, including back-to-back 1-1 draws in two friendly matches last month against South Africa and Africa’s highest-ranked side, Morocco.
The Elephants are heavily fancied to win this match, as they boast an excellent record of only one loss in their last 10 matches on their home patch while drawing three and winning six in that time.
Meanwhile, Seychelles are expected to find it difficult in this one as they come into the match following three consecutive losses in the COSAFA Cup back in July, conceding nine goals in that time.
While the visitors managed a 1-0 win over Bangladesh in a friendly match back in March, that was the only victory they have earned in their last 50 matches in all competitions dating back to 2016.
Seychelles were beaten 4-2 in their last match by Zambia, marking their fifth consecutive home defeat, though the one positive they could take from the match was that it was the first time they scored two goals in a home game since January 2020 when they drew 2-2 against Mauritius.
The Pirates are the second-lowest-ranked team in Africa behind Somalia and failed to qualify for the upcoming African Cup of Nations when they lost 3-1 to Lesotho in the preliminary round last year.
Ivory Coast form (all competitions):
Seychelles form (all competitions):
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Ivory Coast have class throughout the pitch, and Wilfried Zaha is likely to spearhead the hosts’ attack alongside Nicolas Pepe and Sebastien Haller.
Ah-Ahli’s Franck Kessie is expected to partner Jean Michael Seri in the engine room, with Ibrahim Sangare occupying the holding role in front of the defence.
Ralph Jean-Louis, on the other hand, faces something of a crisis, with players reportedly boycotting training sessions ahead of the upcoming matches.
Among the players spotted in the camp were goalkeeper Jerome Dingwall, defender Jones Joubert and midfielders Brandon Labrosse and Elijah Tamboo.
Ivory Coast possible starting lineup:Gbohouo; Aurier, Bailly, Deli, Konan; Kessie, Seri, Sangare; Pepe, Haller, Zaha
Seychelles possible starting lineup:Dingwall; Esther, Joubert, Marie, Brioche; Melanie, Labrosse; Tamboo, Hall, Monnaie; Belle
We say: Ivory Coast 3-0 Seychelles
Aside from their poor run of results, Seychelles football is going through a very difficult period at present, which does not bode well for their chances here. In contrast, Ivory Coast have a world-class squad, and we expect they will come through this match with an easy win.
For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.
Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting under 2.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Under 2.5:data
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Sir Jim Ratcliffe ‘hoping Manchester United deal will be completed by Christmas’
Sir Jim Ratcliffe hopes that his 25% purchase of Manchester United will be completed by Christmas, according to a report.
British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe is reportedly hopeful that his 25% purchase of Manchester United will be completed by Christmas.
An announcement on the 71-year-old’s arrival as a minority shareholder was expected to be made during the November international break, but there was a delay due to the complex nature of the deal.
According to The Mirror, the process is now reaching its final stages, and Ratcliffe is hopeful that he will be able to take over football operations at Old Trafford before Christmas....Click Here To Continue Reading>>
The report claims that INEOS performance director Sir Dave Brailsford is set to make the move to the club, and he will play a leading role in the changes that will be made to the sporting department.
Richard Arnold’s departure as CEO has already been confirmed, with Jean-Claude Blanc widely expected to arrive in that position once Ratcliffe’s deal has been announced.
Blanc worked for the French Tennis Federation as a chief executive before switching to football, and he has previously been the Juventus CEO and marketing executive of Paris Saint-Germain.
The 60-year-old is currently the chief executive of INEOS Sport, and it is believed that he will be Arnold’s permanent replacement in the senior position.
John Murtough could remain as football director for now, but it is understood that a change will also be made in that position, with Crystal Palace’s Dougie Freedman regarded by many to be the frontrunner.
The role of director of football operations David Harrison is also in severe doubt, with Ratcliffe seemingly preparing to make a number of changes to what he views to be a failing department.
Ratcliffe is said to be taking advice from Man United’s legendary former manager Sir Alex Ferguson when it comes to his overhaul of the football side of the business.
At one stage, it appeared that Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani would be completing a 100% takeover of Man United from the Glazer family.
However, the Qatari banker recently withdrew his offer due to his frustrations in dealing with the Glazers, who signalled last November that they were open to discussing a potential sale of the club.
Ratcliffe is coming in at initial 25%, but it is understood that the Brit wants to complete a staggered takeover in the coming years.
Man United will be back in Premier League action on Saturday evening following their 3-3 draw with Galatasaray in the Champions League, facing a trip to St James’ Park to take on Newcastle United.
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Marcus Rashford’s record vs. Newcastle United
Sports Mole looks at Marcus Rashford’s record against Newcastle United ahead of Manchester United’s trip to St James’ Park in the Premier League.
Marcus Rashford will be bidding to score in back-to-back Premier League matches for the first time this season when Manchester United face Newcastle United on Saturday night.
The 26-year-old registered a penalty in his side’s 3-0 win over Everton in the league last weekend, but he missed out on Wednesday’s 3-3 draw with Galatasaray due to a Champions League suspension.
Rashford is back in the squad for Man United’s return to league action, and he is expected to feature in the starting side, as Erik ten Hag’s side look to make it five wins from their last six league matches....Click Here To Continue Reading>>
With that in mind, Sports Mole looks at how the forward has performed against Newcastle during his professional career.
Rashford has faced the Magpies on 12 occasions at first-team level, boasting a record of seven wins, two draws and three defeats against them, scoring four goals and registering five assists in the process.
As expected, the bulk of those matches (10) have taken place in the Premier League, with Rashford winning six, drawing two and losing two of his previous league encounters with Newcastle.
Rashford has also tackled the Magpies twice in the EFL Cup, scoring once, with his goal coming in the final earlier this year, but he was also a part of the side that suffered a 3-0 defeat to Eddie Howe’s side in this season’s tournament, coming off the bench in the second period.
The attacker has managed four goals and five assists against Newcastle in the Premier League, and he has previous when it comes to impressing at St James’ Park.
Indeed, he scored and provided an assist in a 2-0 Man United victory at the famous stadium during the second half of the 2018-19 campaign.
Arguably Rashford’s best performance against Newcastle also came at St James’ Park, with the Englishman scoring once and providing two assists in a 4-1 success for the Red Devils in the early stages of the 2020-21 campaign.
The forward has not managed to score in his last three Premier League games with the Magpies, though, which includes a 2-0 loss at St James’ Park last term.
Rashford’s penalty against Everton last weekend could potentially have kickstarted his campaign from a goal point of view, and he will now be bidding to help Man United move closer to the top four in the Premier League table.
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Team News: Wolverhampton Wanderers make four changes for Arsenal clash
Gary O’Neil makes four changes to his Wolverhampton Wanderers XI for the Premier League fixture against Arsenal on Saturday afternoon.
Gary O’Neil has made four changes to his Wolverhampton Wanderers XI for Saturday’s Premier League fixture at Arsenal.
For the first time this season, O’Neil has started to encounter injury and suspension issues, the one benefit from the defeat at Fulham earlier this week being Craig Dawson able to return from a one-match ban for the game at the Emirates Stadium.
However, Mario Lemina and Joao Gomes both picked up their fifth yellow cards of the campaign at Craven Cottage, while Rayan Ait-Nouri sustained an ankle injury....Click Here To Continue Reading>>
Dawson has taken the place of Santiago Bueno in the back three, while Hugo Bueno has been brought in to deputise for Ait-Nouri at left wing-back.
Tommy Doyle and Boubacar Traore are given the nod in the centre of midfield, with Jean-Ricner Bellegarde potentially being given licence to roam between that pair and a front two of Matheus Cunha and Hwang Hee-chan.
Meanwhile, Mikel Arteta has made just the one alteration to the Arsenal side that breezed past Lens in the Champions League on Wednesday night.
Kai Havertz has dropped down to the substitutes’ bench with Leandro Trossard being preferred in his place, the Belgian seemingly being deployed in a central role.
Gabriel Jesus starts in attack for the third game in succession after recovering from a hamstring injury during the international break.
Arsenal: Raya; Tomiyasu, Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko; Trossard, Rice, Odegaard; Saka, Jesus, MartinelliSubs: Ramsdale, White, Cedric, Kiwior, Jorginho, Elneny, Nelson, Havertz, Nketiah
Wolverhampton Wanderers: Sa; Semedo, Kilman, Dawson, Toti, H.Bueno; Doyle, Traore; Bellegarde, Cunha, HwangSubs: Bentley, Doherty, S.Bueno, Silva, Kalajdzic, Sarabia, Chirewa, Whittingham, Hubner
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