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01.06.2010 13:44

Barca’s World Cup: Ivory Coast (VI)

Marc Guillén

In just a few days the very first World Cup finals to be held on the African continent will kick off, and many people are hoping an African side will challenge for the top prize. Ivory Coast, featuring Touré Yaya, are among the favourites to do well.

Right now, Ivory Coast is probably the strongest team on the African continent. They were unbeaten in the qualifying phase and boast some of the European leagues’ best known players, such as the Touré brothers, Didier Drogba, Salomon Kalou and Eboué.

The group of death

However, Ivory Coast are up against some tough opposition in their group. They meet Portugal in their opening match and then take on the mighty Brazil and one of the great unknowns – North Korea.

If Ivory Coast go through to the next round, they will meet one of the teams from Spain’s group. That means that Touré could come up against Brazilian team-mate Alves in the group stage before a possible clash with 8 of his team-mates in the Spain team.

Eriksson brings order

Despite a flawless World Cup qualifying campaign, Ivory Coast made a shock quarterfinal exit from the African Cup of Nations, leading to the sacking of national team manager Vahid Halilhodzic.

He was replaced by the experienced Swedish coach Sven Goran Eriksson with the brief to bring greater discipline and defensive rigour to a team of individual stars. His previous World Cup experience with Mexico and England has helped Eriksson build a cohesive unit in record time.

The experience of 2006

Ivory Coast made its first appearance in a World Cup finals in Germany 2006. Despite giving a good account of themselves, they failed to qualify from a very tough group after narrow defeats to Argentina and Holland and claiming their only victory against Serbia & Montenegro.
Barca’s World Cup: Ivory Coast (VI)
Playing "at home"
African football has come on in leaps and bounds in recent years and since Cameroon made their mark in Italy 1990, each World Cup has seen an African side among the fancied outsiders to lift the trophy. An African team has yet to reach the semi-finals but just about everyone would like to see that happen in South Africa. Ivory Coast has all the trump cards to be the side that makes the definitive breakthrough for African football.

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