SHREWD Democratic Republic of Congo soccer coach Claude Le Roy is planning to spoil the party for hot Group B Africa Cup of Nations favourites Ghana when the two sides clash at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Sunday (kick-off 5pm).
The experienced DRC coach has already started playing "mind games" with his group opponents by labelling his own team as underdogs.
The Leopards are returning to the continental scene after last appearing at the tournament in 2006.
Soccer fever is growing in the Bay and Eastern Province soccer boss Mzimkhulu Fina is hoping at least 35000 fans watch Sunday's double header at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium. Ghana face DRC in the early game and Mali meet Niger in the late clash which starts at 8pm.
"We are not favourites in the competition and we are far from that. But we can consider ourselves as underdogs who can create surprises and perhaps spoil some dreams of top-flight sides," the Frenchman said.
"There are three teams I see as top favourites for the tournament – Algeria, Ghana and Ivory Coast. I don't think any other team would be able to clinch the trophy besides one from the above three."
Meanwhile, Ivory Coast defender Kolo Toure believes Ghana are the favourites to win the tournament. The Black Stars aim at winning the tournament in South Africa for the first time in 31 years.
Ghana are, however, without big-name players like Michael Essien, Sulley Muntari, John Mensah and Andre Ayew for various reasons.
Toure, whose side are the overwhelming favourites to end their own trophy drought that spans more than two decades, says Ghana is the team to beat. "Everybody is always saying Ivory Coast are favourites, but I think Ghana is the one to beat," he told Angel FM.
"They are playing well and they have a great team and in the last World Cup they were the best Africa team. Egypt didn't have a lot of big players but they won it three times. You don't need to have big players to win the Africa Cup of Nations."
Ghana go into the competition having won two friendly games against Egypt and Tunisia.
řEP Cricket president Graeme Sauls has appealed to cricketers to support all the Afcon matches in Port Elizabeth. "It is not every day we get to see world-class footballers in our city, so let us as cricket people in PE go out and show our support and fully embrace this wonderful event."