World Cup: Look out for – Ivory Coast
By Paul Downey.
The final in our Look Out series was a tough choice especially given that players (especially Premier Leagued based ones) seemed to be dropping like flies when it comes to injuries, but after much deliberation it was decided on the Ivory Coast.
Of course alot of this slant depends massively on the fitness of Didier Drogba, who suffered an arm injury in a warm-up game against Japan. Drogba has been instrumental in the resurgence of Chelsea in the Premier League, also winning the Golden Boot and the FA Cup along the way.
Having said this the Elephants do have other strikers capable on scoring at the highest level, with Aruna Dindane, Seydou Doumbia and Salomon Kalou all capable of goals. The midfield is solid if not spectacular with work horses Didier Zokora (formerly of Tottenham) and Barcelona’s Yaya Toure providing protection to a possibly suspect defence. It is a backline that could include three Premiership players in Arsenal’s Emanuel Eboue, Manchester City’s Kolo Toure and Steve Gohouri of Wigan.
What certainly works against them, is the small matter of being drawn in the ‘Group of Death’ with Portugal, Brazil and North Korea. Having said this, even Cristiano Ronaldo admitted in a recent interview that increased competition early on, can prepare teams mentally more the latter stages of the tournament.
They’re first game is the key as to whether they will get out of the group, as they host Portugal, before meeting Brazil. If they can beat Portugal, ensuring a win against North Korea in the final group game should be enough to see them through barring some freak results. The second round could also be tasty affair with a possible meeting with Italy or even Holland if they do not top their group.
The trump they do have though is newly appointed coach Sven Goran Eriksson, who has proven to have the midas touch certainly at club level. Although England supporters will testify he did lack a Plan B when they got into deeper waters in the last two World Cups. This time round though, the scrutiny and the pressure is very much off for Eriksson, and this could prove vital, as we all know Sven can provide shocks (Germany in Munich, and even Manchester Utd doubled in his only Manchester City campaign).
Another crucial factor could be their squad being used to the temperatures having competed in the African Cup of Nations regularly, whereas some may struggle with it, this shouldn’t be an issue for Ivory Coast. So if Drogba pulls through Ivory Coast could be a force to be reckoned with in South Africa, but even without they could spring the surprise of the competition. Just remember who won Euro 2004.
/ 8 hours ago
Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel would like the club to sign Manchester City attacker Raheem...