Drogba asked to be dropped: Ivory Coast coach

Karim Farouk, Monday 18 Mar 2013

Elephants' captain wants to get back in shape after brief stint in China before rejoining Ivory Coast's national team

File photo: Ivory Coast's Didier Drogba reacts during their African Cup of Nations Group B soccer match against Burkina Faso, in Cabinda, Angola, Monday, Jan. 11, 2010 (Photo: AP)

Ivory Coast coach Sabri Lamouchi has revealed that Didier Drogba has been dropped – upon the latter's request – from the team that will take on Gambia next Saturday in World Cup qualifiers.

The French tactician announced a 23-man provisional list for the third matchday game that did not include the 35-year-old talisman for the first time in more than a decade.

"In eight months, Drogba has played little," Lamouchi said at a Monday press conference. "We also know what it's like to play in China."

Drogba came under fierce criticism following his poor performance during the last Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) 2013, which saw favourites Ivory Coast bow out from the quarter-finals.

After leaving the Blues last summer, the former Chelsea and Marseille striker had a short stint in China. While in China, he played very little and came to the competition out of shape.

In a group stage game against Tunisia, Lamouchi relegated him to the bench for the first time in his career.

"He's not in top form now," the Frenchman said. "He now wants to work so as to regain his form before rejoining the Elephants."

It is the first time for the Ivory Coast icon to have been left out of the national team since he made his debut in September 2002 against South Africa. Since then, he has played 96 matches and scored a record 60 goals.

Lamouchi, however, confirmed his faith in his long-standing skipper, who remains a part of his future plans.

"I still rely on Drogba for World Cup qualification," he said.

The Elephants' top marksman joined Turkish giants Galatasaray in January, helping them reach the quarter-finals of the European Champions League.

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