Lille forward Salomon Kalou said Ivory Coast have to overcome a tough African Nations Cup test if they are to win the title and tone for last year's surprise loss to winners Zambia in the final.
The Elephants will play in Group D of the tournament along with Algeria, Tunisia and Togo.
"Amongst the teams that are going to compete in this Afcon, we respect everybody, because this competition has always sprung so many surprises," Kalou was quoted as saying on MTNFootball on Sunday.
"We saw Zambia last year. Now there are favourites like Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa who will be playing at home.
"Algeria, Tunisia and Togo are good teams, but I think that the team to beat will be Côte d’Ivoire. We are the team to beat in this group."
"It is a very difficult competition to win. We are up against very strong teams, and each one is bent on beating Côte d’Ivoire."
The former Chelsea forward was part of the Elephants squad that reached the CAN 2012 final without conceding a goal but they lost to Zambia on penalty shootout.
"My worst Afcon is also my best, and that is last year’s. It was my worst because we lost in the final, but my best because it was my first Afcon final," Kalou added.
"We went into the final without having conceded a goal and really, we were a solid team. The Côte d’Ivoire team, we’re a team of friends."
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