Perhaps the final opportunity for its so-called golden generation to dazzle on the world stage, the Ivory Coast is ushering in the end of an era for many of its legendary players. A sense of urgency and desperation should hopefully encapsulate the performances of one of Africa’s most underachieving teams to date. Even without an African Cup of Nations to their name, it seems that the Ivory Coast will fail to win a single major trophy with the likes of Chelsea football club’s greatest player Didier Drogba (voted by fans), Manchester City stalwart, superstar, and birthday cake lover, Yaya Toure.
And not to mention, used car salesman Kolo Toure. But seriously, the Cote D’ivoire’s lineup have teased football fans with the prospect of a mighty, high octane offense, but so far have managed to muster up as much confusion and disappointment in the final third as Manchester United had under David Moyes.
The Cote D’Ivoire boast a large and powerful midfield, with speed and pace to match any of the top teams in the tournament. The only thing holding them back right now is tactics. They are yet to establish an identity for their team. Are they an Aerial threat? Sometimes. Do they counter with swift decisiveness? On occasion. Are they capable of playing short technical passes in the box? Not really. What they are, are a team stacked with stars incapable of communicating.
Nevertheless, if they begin to gel it will be a team worth watching. They are also in a very intriguing and gritty group. Columbia without Falcao is still an offensive force to be reckoned with. Greece has their stubborn defense, and Japan is tireless and industrious. There are no shoo-ins for this group. But the expectations for the Elephants are low. Their manager Sabri Lamouchi isn’t many years older than his senior players at 45, and has not guided them to many assured victories in the lead up to the world cup. His surprise election as team manager came in the wake of their devastating loss to Zambia in the 2012 African Cup of Nations. The team record has not improved much since then, but young players in their prime may help to lift the pride of this struggling nation.
A few players to look out for include, Wilfried Bony, Gervinho who has had a resurgence at Roma, and Cheikh Tiote.
One can only hope that the Elephants put on a great display or it truly would have been a tremendous waste of the immense talent and potential that they showed two world cups ago. I for one believe Drogba deserves a glorious send off from his international career, so cheers to that!
Goalkeepers: Boubacar Barry (Lokeren), Sylvain Gbohouo (Sewe Sport), Sayouba Sande (Stabaek).
Defenders: Kolo Toure (Liverpool), Sol Bamba (Trabzonspor), Didier Zokora (Trabzonspor), Serge Aurier (Toulouse), Arthur Boka (Stuttgart), Ousmane Viera Diarrassouba (Caykur Rizespor), Constant Djakpa (Frankfurt), Jean-Daniel Akpa-Akpro (Toulouse).
Midfielders: Yaya Toure (Manchester City), Cheick Tiote (Newcastle), Serey Die (Basel), Max Gradel (Saint Etienne), Diomande Ismael (Saint Etienne), Didier Ya Konan (Hannover), Mathis Bolly (Dusseldorf).
Forwards: Gervinho (Roma), Didier Drogba (Galatasaray), Salomon Kalou (Lille), Wilfried Bony (Swansea), Giovanni Sio (Basel).