World Cup outsiders Bosnia and Ivory Coast evenly matched
World Cup debutants Bosnia and Herzegovina and African giants Ivory Coast (both 150/1 to lift the title) go head-to-head in this pre-tournament match on neutral ground in St. Louis, USA, hoping to get preparations off to a good start.
This will be the first of two official friendlies for both nations before they travel to Brazil, with the Dragons facing Mexico (as well as a game against Santos Under-21s), while the Elephants battle El Salvador.
Bosnia go into this as slight favourites for victory at 6/4, but it is the west Africans (13/8) who have a better recent record, having lost just twice in their last 17 international matches. The former, meanwhile, besides a 5-0 trouncing of their Under-21s, were beaten in their last two fixtures.
Ivory Coast have drawn three of their last four games, however, and this likely outcome to happen again is priced at 9/4. With Bosnia losing their last two matches 2-0, to northern African nation Egypt and Argentina, back that scoreline in favour of Didier Drogba and company at 14/1.
The Elephants’ French national coach Sabri Lamouchi will be in confident mood going into the World Cup this summer, with the country been drawn in a favourable pool for Brazil, with Colombia, Japan and Greece. This is in stark contrast to their last two tournaments when they were put in ‘groups of death’.
Former Chelsea forward Salomon Kalou (now at Lille) is certainly more positive, but not complacent, this time around: “Maturity, this is important. I think that we have been naive during the two previous editions of the World Cup. When we play at this level, it’s the details that make the difference.
“It is not necessarily the case that the team who plays the best football comes out as winner of a contest.
“It is the one that is more focused on regaining the ball or the one that is more concentrated to defend and be like this for 90 minutes in the match. Often, we have played concentrated for just 45 minutes.”
You can back Ivory Coast at 4/1 to win Group C, or to qualify for the knockout phase at 11/10. They are also 13/8 to be the top African team at the finals.
Bosnia, meanwhile, do face a slightly more difficult group (F), against Argentina, but are priced ahead of Nigeria and Iran to top the pool at 11/2, and are odds-on to qualify at 8/11.
This pre-tournament match between Bosnia and Ivory Coast will certainly help them both prepare for their respective World Cup games against Nigeria and Greece, with their group contestants geographically close to their friendly opponents.