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Ivory Coast: Key Players to Watch at African Cup of Nations

Sam TigheWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterJanuary 16, 2013

Ivory Coast: Key Players to Watch at African Cup of Nations

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    As the 2013 African Cup of Nations draws closer, Bleacher Report takes a look at the key performers in the Ivory Coast team.

    Sabri Lamouchi will need these four players to perform to the best of their abilities if his Elephants team are to go one further than last season and lift the trophy.

    Who joins Didier Drogba on the list?

Copa Barry

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    The Ivory Coast find themselves with high-class players in most positions, but goalkeeper is one they've struggled with for years.

    Copa never looked too comfortable during the 2010 World Cup, though it has to be noted he didn't concede a single goal in last year's competition up until the final against Zambia.

    He'll be thrust into the spotlight once more and be eager to overcome the heartbreaking penalty shootout loss from 2012. 

Gervinho

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    As laughable as Gervinho's performances for Arsenal are, he's actually an important player for Les Elephants.

    In international football, he's allowed the time and space to make the decisions that don't come quickly to him, making him a prime creative and scoring threat.

    The Ivory Coast have a lot of options on the wings with Max Gradel and Salomon Kalou in the team, but Gervinho started both playoff matches against Senegal and scored in one. He should be a first XI selection.

Yaya Toure

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    Yaya Toure is the best player on this Ivory Coast team and his teammates will look to him to force matters in their favour.

    With Cheick Tiote and Didier Zokora forming a solid holding midfield pivot, Toure may well be asked to fulfill a more expansive and attacking role for Les Elephants—expect to see his sizable body flying up and down the field at will.

    The role Roberto Mancini refines him to with Manchester City is good for the team, but Sabri Lamouchi should unleash the beast. 

Didier Drogba

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    For those of you who haven't seen him kick a ball for a while, this is a pretty good chance to catch him.

    Since Didier Drogba left for Shanghai Shenhua, we've heard constant speculation that he's joining any one of five top clubs on loan to ease a striking concern.

    Unfortunately, we've not seen too much in terms of football from him, but who's willing to bet against him being anything other than superb again? 

     

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