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Ivory Coast

Ahram Online and Reuters, Sunday 13 Jan 2013
Ivory Coast soccer team
Ivory Coast soccer team (Photo: AP)
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Qualifying campaign: Ivory Coast, last year’s finalists, beat Senegal 4-2 in the first leg of the final qualifier and were leading 2-0 in the second when the match was abandoned due to crowd riots in Dakar. Ivory Coast were consequently awarded a 2-0 win which qualified them for the CAN 6-2 on aggregate.

History: Ivory Coast’s greatest achievement was winning the 1992 CAN after beating Ghana on penalties. However, their golden generation was unlucky not to win the CAN in 2006 and 2012, losing to Egypt and Zambia in both finals respectively. They made two World Cup appearances in 2006 and 2010 and were eliminated from the first round on both occasions.

Expectations:  The Ivorians will start as favourites again for the title, as they have been for the last four tournaments. Each time they have come up short and the burden of expectation is potentially producing a mental block. Their squad is the strongest at the tournament.

FIFA Ranking: 14 (1 in Africa)

Achievements:

CAN winners in 1992

Coach: Sabri Lamouchi (France)

Sabri Lamouchi had no previous coaching experience when the Ivorians surprisingly installed him last May, sacking Francis Zahoui even though he had led them into the finals of the last Nations Cup. The new coach has gone unbeaten in his first six games in charge. Lamouchi is a former France international who played at Euro 96 and was on the books at AJ Auxerre, Monaco, Paris St Germain, Parma and Inter Milan.

 

Key players:

Didier Drogba (Shanghai Shenhua). Age: 34. Pos: Forward

This is the last chance for Drogba to win the elusive Nations Cup after twice finishing runner-up. He missed a penalty in the 2012 final and the decisive kick in the shootout to decide the 2006 title in Egypt, but he did score from the spot to deliver the Champions League to Chelsea in May. He has 56 goals in 89 appearances for the Ivorians.

Yaya Toure (Manchester City). Age: 29. Pos: Midfielder

Winner of the African Footballer of the Year award for 2011 and 2012, Toure commands a massive physical presence in the centre of midfield. He has had a nomadic career, playing at clubs in seven countries before his move after the 2010 World Cup to England. Part of the Manchester City team that won the Premier League last May.

Gervinho (Arsenal). Age: 25. Pos: Forward

Gervais Yao Kouassi was the big star of the French league in 2011, leading unfashionable Lille to the title and earning himself a lucrative transfer to England, but he has been inconsistent at Arsenal and earned an unwanted reputation for his foibles in front of goal. This will be his fourth appearance at the Nations Cup finals with the highlight being his semi-final goal against Mali last year.

 

Full Squad:

Goalkeepers: 1- Boubacar Barry (Lokeren), 23- Badra Ali Sangare (IAFC), 16- Daniel Yeboah (Dijon)

Defenders: 22- Soulemanye Bamba (Trabzonspor), 3- Arthur Boka (VfB Stuttgart), 21- Emmanuel Eboue (Galatasaray), 20- Igor Lolo (Kuban Krasnodar), 17- Siaka Tiene (Paris St Germain), 4- Kolo Toure (Manchester City), 14- Ismael Traore (Stade Brest)

Midfielders: 15- Max Gradel (St Etienne), 7- Abdul Razak (Manchester City), 6- Romaric (Real Zaragoza), 13- Didier Ya Konan (Hannover 96), 9- Ismael Tiote (Newcastle United), 19- Yaya Toure (Manchester City), 5- Didier Zokora (Trabzonspor).

Forwards: 12- Wilfried Bony (Vitesse Arnhem), 11- Didier Drogba (Shanghai Shenhua), 10- Gervinho (Arsenal), 8- Salomon Kalou (OSC Lille), 2- Arouna Kone (Wigan Athletic), 18- Lacina Traore (Anzhi Makhachkala).

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