Ivory Coast: World Cup 2014 Team Preview
Best Finish: Group Stage (2006, 2010)
Manager: Sabri Lamouchi
Captain: Didier Drogba
The highest ranking African team qualified by beating Senegal in a two-legged playoff. Having made their World Cup debut in 2006, The Elephants are yet to progress past the group stage; although they have been drawn in the ‘group of death’ on both occasions.
Coach Sabri Lamouchi has set up a solid team. The Elephanys are pragmatic and press the opposition well, but when they’ve got the ball they are capable of expressing themselves and playing some fluid, attacking play.
Blessed with attacking options, who each differentiate from each other, they will strike fear into any opponent; Didier Drogba, Wilfried Bony and Seydou Doumbia are all strikers who can offer something different, whilst support in the wide areas should be plentiful from Salmon Kalou and a rejuvenated Gervinho.
Behind their front line lies a solid, defensive wall who are focused on physically dominating their midfield counterparts.
Get through the midfield and the opponents should have some joy, though. Ageing centre backs and a dearth of quality in the full back position mean the Ivory Coast defence are easy to pull apart and lacklustre on the ball.
If Côte D’Ivoire are to best their current record, they will have to pray they don’t end up in the ‘group of death’ once again. If the draw is favourable, they should be able to rely on their impressive collection of attacking players to get them into the knockout stages.
Key Player – Yaya Toure
Deceptively quick and strong in the tackle, he is the ideal mould for the perfect defensive midfielder. However, whilst at Manchester City, he has developed a new side to his game. Sometimes being played behind the striker, Toure is now capable of beating his man with deft touches and scoring from anywhere within 30 yards from goal.
No doubt the first name on Sabri Lamouchi’s team sheet, Ivory Coast are built around Toure’s plethora of attributes. Experienced in big game competitions, him and his captain Didier Drogba will be expected to keep his team focused and well away from their renowned lapses in concentration.