Cote D'Ivoire World Cup 2014: Team Guide for FIFA Tournament
Over the last decade, the Cote d’Ivoire have boasted one of the finest collections of players ever assembled by an African nation.
Between them, the squad that will head to Brazil can boast three Champions League titles and eight Premier League titles, not to mention numerous other league titles from across Europe. They also have the experience of playing together since their early years.
However, there is also the burden of past failure together. Twice, the Golden Generation have been eliminated in the opening round of the World Cup. Numerous Cup of Nations tournaments have been and gone along with a series of devastating failures.
The legs are getting weary these days though, so the tournament in Brazil represents one final hurrah for a superb collection of players.
Will they be remembered as perennial chokers or can they finally leave a lasting legacy in the international arena?
Road to the Finals
The Cote d’Ivoire advanced from CAF Group C with little difficulty. They escaped from a pool containing Morocco, Tanzania and The Gambia without defeat, scoring five in the process.
In the play-offs they were drawn against Senegal in a replay of the controversial aborted Cup of Nations play-off. The Elephants tore into a three-goal lead, but a late Papiss Cisse goal threw slight doubt over the eventual outcome.
A Moussa Sow goal in the second leg in Casablanca made the Ivorians sweat, but Salomon Kalou confirmed qualification with a 94th-minute finish.
The Cote d’Ivoire were the last African nation to reveal their provisional World Cup list. They released 28 names on Tuesday afternoon.
The full squad can be viewed here: The Cote d’Ivoire Player-by-Player Guide
Goalkeepers: Boubacar Barry (Lokeren), Sylvain Gbohouo (Sewe Sport), Ali Sangare Badra (ASEC Mimosas), Sayouba Sande (Stabaek).
Defenders: Kolo Toure (Liverpool), Sol Bamba (Trabzonspor), Didier Zokora (Trabzonspor), Serge Aurier (Toulouse), Arthur Boka (Stuttgart), Benjamin Angoua (Valenciennes), Ousmane Viera Diarrassouba (Caykur Rizespor), Constant Djakpa (Frankfurt), Brice Dja Djedje (Marseille), 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).
The trendy Sabri Lamouchi cuts a smart figure on the touchline, although the suspicion remains that he is perhaps too lightweight for one of Africa’s biggest jobs.
Many managers have tried to get the best out of the Golden Generation of the Cote d’Ivoire and the hope had been that the urbane Frenchman would create a positive environment for the experienced Elephants to prosper in.
While they qualified fairly comfortably for Brazil, they were horribly uninspired at the Cup of Nations in early 2013.
Lamouchi himself was cut from France’s preliminary World Cup squad ahead of Les Bleus’ victory on home soil in 1998.
While Didier Drogba remains a hugely influential figure and a powerful leader of the line, there are few players in the world who can do what Yaya Toure is capable of.
The powerhouse midfielder’s primary responsibility with Manchester City is to protect the back four, although he is also adept at charging forward through the middle of the park, unsettling the opposition and weighing-in with valuable goals.
In the heart of the Ivorian midfield he will likely have the luxury of the defensive mettle of Serey Die and Cheick Tiote behind him, giving the former Barcelona man even more liberty to power into offensive positions.
One to Watch
Serge Aurier has had a fantastic season in France with Toulouse and continues his development into Africa’s most impressive young defender. He seems to be on course to join a major European club this summer and may even move before the World Cup.
Arsenal have regularly been speculated with the player and, in truth, there are few players who would be a better long-term replacement to Bacary Sagna at right-back.
Aurier has displaced Emmanuel Eboue in this position for the Ivorian national side and should be both a resolute defender and a potent attacking weapon for the Elephants this summer.
World Cup Record
2006: Group Stage – P3 W1 D0 L2 GF5 GA6
Star Man: Aruna Dindane [pictured] spearheaded an unlikely comeback against Serbia and Montenegro. 2-0 down against the Eastern Europeans, the Lens striker scored twice, before Bonaventure Kalou completed the turnaround.
2010: Group Stage – P3 W1 D1 L1 GH4 GA3
Star Man: Didier Drogba broke an arm before the tournament but still managed to return in time to feature. He came off the bench in the opening game, scored in the second and was Man of the Match in the third. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough for the Elephants to advance to the knock-out stages.
Saturday 14 June, 10 p.m. local time, Arena Pernambuco, Recife vs. JAPAN
Thursday 19 June, 1 p.m. local time, Estadio Nacional, Brasilia vs. COLOMBIA
Tuesday 24 June, 5 p.m. local time, Estadio Castelao, Fortaleza vs. GREECE