The Ivory Coast are by far Africa’s strongest representatives at the World Cup this summer. The Elephants as they are commonly referred to boast of one of the strongest squads not only in Africa but also in World football. Led by their captain and star player Didier Drogba, a lot is expected from the Ivorians in South Africa despite their seeding in the so called group of death.
Recently appointed coach Sven Goran-Ericksson will be expecting a lot of goals from his forwards who include: Chelsea duo Drogba and Kalou, Arouna Dindane of French club Lens and Aruna Kone of Spanish outfit Sevilla. Now we all know the talent that Drogba and Kalou possess however, both Kone and Dindane are also very good strikers.
Remember the PSV Eindhoven side that was a force to reckon with on the European continent five years ago? Well, Kone was a member of that squad. Other notable players included the likes of Bayern Munich’s Mark Van Bommel, J.S. Park of Manchester United, Y.P.lee, Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink Demarcus Beasley, Jefferson Farfan and Alex amongst others. PSV reached the semi final of the Champions League that season but were denied a chance to progress through to the finals after their 3-3 draw at the San Siro saw Milan go onto the final on the away goal rule.
In midfield the key players to look out for include Gervinho of French club Lille, Romaric (Sevilla), Yaya Toure (Barcelona) and Didier Zokora of Sevilla. The elephant’s defense is also a force to reckon with with the likes of Kolo toure, Emmanuel Eboue, Sol Bamba and Abdoulaye Meite.
Now, after a rather disastrous Africa Cup of Nations earlier in the year, it remains to be seen whether new coach Eriksson can do what Vahid Halilhodzic failed to do with the same squad. Making it to the finals of the World Cup for the second time in their history, the Elephants will face their toughest test ever when they come against top ranked teams Brazil and Portugal in the opening stages of the month long tournament.
If they make it out of Group G, then they do have a shot at going all the way. My best case scenario for the Ivory Coast is a Final appearance while my worst is a quarter final exit. However, talk is cheap and we will only know how far they will go once the tournament begins.
Photo credit: from LisbonVisitor