Ivory Coast v Mali: Drogba to send favourites into final

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The Ivory Coast have hardly been forced out of third gear to reach the semi finals of the African Nations Cup and more of the same can be expected as they prepare to face Mali in the last four.

Francois Zahoui’s star-studded squad breezed through their group with a 100-per-cent winning record and maintained their record of still not having conceded a goal when defeating Equatorial Guinea.

Meanwhile, they have only been beaten once by Mali in 21 career meetings and this was in a friendly back in 1995.

The Ivory Coast have picked up two of their 14 successes in the African Nations Cup previously, with the most recent arriving in a first-round encounter in the 2008 finals in Ghana.

It is an attractive 1/2 in the football odds that the Ivory Coast beat Mali and much may come down to how well Didier Drogba is marshalled.

Drogba is one of five players currently topping the scoring charts at the tournament with three goals and is 5/2 to open the scoring in the semi final.

The onus of keeping him quiet will rest on the shoulders of veteran Mali defender Cedric Kante, who along with Barcelona midfielder Seydou Keita offers some rare experience in the ranks.

Without the likes of Mahamadou Diarra, Momo Sissoko and Frederic Kanoute, Mali have done exceedingly well to reach this stage and know that they approach the Ivory Coast clash as major underdogs.

Anything can happen and Mali coach Alain Giresse insists his team will play with no fear.

Mali are 7/1 to beat the Ivory Coast and it is 13/5 that the semi final goes into extra time.

If a team backed to win the game in 90 minutes is instead successful via a penalty shoot out, the losing match bet will be refunded.

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Craig Kemp

Craig has written for Ladbrokes since the 2010 World Cup, having previously gained a Media & Sports Journalism degree and contributed to publications including the Racing Post. His main areas of interest are horse racing and UFC, but he is also an avid X Factor gambler and likes nothing more than indulging in a spot of Hip Hop Karaoke.