Salomon Kalou has said he hopes to win another bet against close friend Mikel Obi by helping Cote d’Ivoire beat Nigeria on Sunday.
Cote d’Ivoire and Nigeria will battle for a right to play in the semi-final of this year’s Africa Cup of Nations.
Kalou and Mikel struck a great friendship when they played together for English Premier League side Chelsea until Kalou departed for France in the summer.
“I always like to score against Obi Mikel. That’s our bet when we play against each other and we will see what happens on Sunday,” said Kalou, who incidentally scored the match winner when the Elephants pipped the Eagles 1-0 in a group game at the 2008 tournament in Ghana.
“They have great players who can make a difference. We played them in 2008 and we beat them but it was a very difficult game.
“They have a quality team. We respect them, but we have a goal, that is to win the cup.”
Manchester City star Yaya Toure insisted Cote d’Ivoire are not favourites to win the 2013 competition.
“We’re not favourites because the Nations Cup is a very tough competition, may be the favourites are Nigeria and Burkina Faso, but not the Ivory Coast,” he maintained.
He said he therefore expects a tough match on Sunday.
“It will be tough in this quarterfinal and so we have to work very hard to go as far as possible and do something very important this year,” he said.
“Nigeria is a strong team, they have Obi Mikel, (Victor) Moses, they are fantastic players
“We’re ready for the game. I don’t want to talk about the match, but the most important thing is the game itself on Sunday.”
The two West African rivals have clashed on five occasions at the Nations Cup finals with Nigeria winning two and drawing one of these matches.
Champions in 1992, Cote d’Ivoire stopped Nigeria 1-0 in the semi-finals of the 2006 AFCON in Egypt and also shaded it 1-0 in Sekondi in a group game in 2008 in Ghana.
Two-time winners Nigeria edged it on penalties after a pulsating 2-2 draw in a 1994 semi-final in Tunis and also defeated their regional rivals 1-0 in a group tie in Algiers in 1990.
Both teams played out a goalless draw in a group match in Lagos in 1980 with the Eagles going ahead to win their first-ever continental trophy on home soil.
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