Ivory Coast: World Cup 2014 Team Preview
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).
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.
This time, the draw has been a little more favourable, and they’ll fancy their chances of getting out of Group C, where they’ll face Colombia, Japan and Greece.
Coach Sabri Lamouchi has set up a solid team. The Elephants 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 have a myriad of different qualities, they are capable being a real attacking force in Brazil; Didier Drogba and Wilfried Bony are all very difficult to play against, 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.
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.