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SquadEdit

Goalkeepers: Boubacar Barry (Lokeren), Sylvain Gbohouo (Sewe Sport), Sayouba Mande (Stabaek)

Defenders: Jean-Daniel Akpa-Akpro (Toulouse), Serge Aurier (Toulouse), Souleyman Bamba (Trabzonspor), Arthur Boka (Stuttgart), Kolo Toure (Liverpool), Didier Zokora (Trabzonspor), Ousman Vieira (Caykur Rizespor)

Midfielders: Mathis Bolly (Fortuna Dusseldorf), Constant Djakpa (Eintracht Frankfurt), Ismael Diomande (Saint-Etienne), Max-Alain Gradel (Saint-Etienne), Cheick Tiote (Newcastle United), Yaya Toure (Manchester City), Geoffroy Serey Die (Basel), Didier Ya Konan (Hannover 96)

Forwards: Wilfried Bony (Swansea), Didier Drogba (Galatasaray), Gervinho (Roma), Salomon Kalou (Lille), Giovanni Sio (Basel)

Ivory Coast
Edit

Team ProfileEdit

Ivory Coast are regarded as one of Africa's strongest footballing nations, but have yet to live up to that billing at the FIFA World Cup.

However, Sabri Lamouchi's men have an excellent opportunity to make an impression on the grandest stage after receiving a seemingly favourable draw for this year's tournament.

Group-stage eliminations in Ivory Coast's only two previous appearances at the finals in 2006 and 2010 were no great surprise given the teams they came up against.

Having been drawn alongside two international powerhouses in the form of Argentina and the Netherlands eight years ago, Ivory Coast suffered a similar fate at the following World Cup as they lost out to Brazil and Portugal.

Yet an opportunity has presented itself in 2014, with Colombia, Greece and Japan offering a somewhat less daunting challenge in Group C.

It could be argued that Ivory Coast find themselves in the most unpredictable pool, with all four nations capable of reaching the last 16.

Lamouchi's side are unlikely to fear any of their opponents, having come through qualifying without losing a game.

A 4-2 aggregate victory over 2002 quarter-finalists Senegal saw Ivory Coast book their place in Brazil.

Coach Lamouchi therefore has a chance to finally make his mark on the world stage after being denied the opportunity to do so prior to the 1998 event.

Lamouchi was named in France’s preliminary squad for the tournament, but was one of six players axed by head coach Aime Jacquet, who went on to write his name into the history books by leading his side to a maiden world title on home soil.

The 42-year-old will hope to wipe out memories of that painful omission by leading Ivory Coast to the latter stages in Brazil, and can call upon a captain who will likely be competing in the final World Cup of a glittering career.

Didier Drogba featured for Ivory Coast in 2006 and 2010 and, at 36, continues to show his worth despite his advancing years, scoring three goals - including one in the play-off with Senegal - during qualification.

The striker, who recently announced his impending departure from Galatasaray, won a string of major honours during his time with Chelsea.

While Ivory Coast are considered to be among the outsiders to win the World Cup, Drogba will be keen to make a major impact.

His former Chelsea team-mate Salomon Kalou, who now plays for Lille, could also play a key role in an experienced and talented forward line.

Ivory Coast’s squad is well-stocked with top-level talent from across the European leagues, with Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure – a three-time winner of the African Footballer of the Year award – a particularly influential figure.

Given the quality at his disposal, Lamouchi will be optimistic of helping Ivory Coast follow in the footsteps of Cameroon, Senegal and Ghana by becoming only the fourth African side to reach the last eight of the World Cup.

And if they fail to progress from the group stage this time around, there will be little room for excuses.

Player Profile (Didier Drogba)Edit

Position: Striker
Date of Birth: March 11, 1978
Club: Galatasaray
International Debut: v South Africa (September 8, 2002)
World Cup Appearances: 5
World Cup Goals: 2

Veteran forward Didier Drogba has enjoyed an outstanding career at club level but success with the Ivory Coast has frustratingly eluded him so far.

The 36-year-old - most recently playing for Galatasaray, but set to move on after the World Cup - routinely proved himself for Chelsea during a glittering eight-year stay at the English club, winning a host of trophies, including three Premier League titles and the 2012 UEFA Champions League.

But the prolific targetman is still searching for his first major honours with his national team - and the upcoming 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil may be his last chance.

Drogba's game - based on power, strength, aggression and a natural goalscorer's instinct - has showed signs of slowing in recent times, and he has been forced to adapt to the demands of playing regularly into his later years.

He was even dropped by Ivory Coast coach Sabri Lamouchi in March 2013 after a disappointing Africa Cup of Nations, although he was brought back into the squad in August after proving his fitness and form.

The good news for Ivory Coast fans is that while Drogba's consistency may have faded, he is still capable of turning in big performances on the major stage.

The captain and two-time African Footballer of the Year – whose international scoring rate is better than a goal every two games - opened his account in his first match at the World Cup, netting a late consolation in a 2-1 loss against Argentina at Germany 2006.

But he was suspended for Ivory Coast's first-ever win at the global football showpiece - a 3-2 come-from-behind victory against Serbia and Montenegro.

Their failure to reach the last 16 at that event was replicated in South Africa four years later, as they were once again placed in a difficult group.

A second-half substitute in an opening 0-0 draw with Portugal, Drogba was restored to the starting line-up against Brazil but his late goal meant little as they lost 3-1.

They rounded off their campaign with a 3-0 win against North Korea, although that was not enough to prevent them from going home.

It represented yet another failure to deliver in major tournaments for a country that has not won an Africa Cup of Nations title since 1992, despite witnessing a golden generation of players including not only Drogba, but the likes of Yaya and Kolo Toure, as well as Salomon Kalou and Didier Zokora.

They will be out to spring a surprise, however, when they travel to Brazil.

A tricky Group C has pitted them against Colombia, Greece and Japan and, with three games in little over a week to negotiate in the first phase of the competition, it may be too much to expect that Drogba's legs will stand up to starting in each of those.

Regardless, as charismatic off the pitch as he is on it, you can be sure that he will be at the very centre of their campaign.

A revered figure in his home country, Drogba's influence goes way beyond football, with the Ivory Coast's all-time leading scorer even credited with playing a key role in temporarily ceasing a civil war that raged for five years.

His impromptu national address to television cameras after their qualification for the 2006 World Cup is the stuff of folklore.

And should he produce another starring performance by helping guide his country beyond the group stages for the first time at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, it would undoubtedly cement his place in the history books as one of Africa's leading sporting icons.



News SourcesEdit

Fratmat: http://www.fratmat.info/sports

Abidjan: http://sports.abidjan.net/foot/

Le Patriote: http://www.lepatriote.net/sport.php

Notre Voie: http://www.notrevoie.com/rubriques.asp?issue=4724&id=7