It is the last chance saloon for football legend Didier Drogba and the Ivory Coast’s golden generation. And never bet against the “Drog.”
Spain talisman Xavi is also nearing the end of the road and he is anxious to see Brazil leave the 2014 competition before he does while Holland midfielder Kevin Strootman has been ruled out of the World Cup altogether and England star Jack Wiltshire is warned that he might not make it either.
Time for Ivory Coast’s ageing golden generation to finally make an impact on the world stage
By Salim Masoud Said (UK Telegraph)
When Sven Goran Eriksson met his Ivorian players for the first time in the Swiss Alps, in their pre-tournament training camp for the 2010 World Cup, the polarities of managing the Ivory Coast and England were immediately apparent.
“The England players were calm and quiet,” he notes in his autobiography Sven: My Story. “The Ivorian players were loud and boisterous. They could sit and talk and laugh about everything and nothing. Suddenly, they would break out into song or dance. At the long dinner table, people would be sitting at the far end from each other and shout across the table.”
So excessive were the decibel levels that the placid Eriksson felt compelled to apologise to the hotel director.
“No, no,” came the response with laughter. “We haven’t had this good a time in the last 20 years.”
Indeed, Les Éléphants are a notoriously tight-knit group of players. The type of men who can share an extra large plate of rice without squabbling over who is eating the bigger portions; or share one bottle of Drogbacite—the drink named after Didier Drogba—between them without being wary about the spread of bacteria.
Such is the thirst to be in the Ivorian squad that instead of waiting for coach Sabri Lamouchi’s call for international duty, over-eager players took the initiative and contacted the Ivorian Football Federation to find out if they’d made the cut.
“When I know that tomorrow we got the national team list, I call straight to know [saying] ‘please, I want to come, to be more happy’,” former Arsenal right-back Emmanuel Eboue confessed last year.
There shouldn’t be happiness in this Ivory Coast team, however.
Since the 2006 Africa Cup of Nations, they’ve headed into AFCON tournaments billed as favourites, only to disappoint.
Yet, in a squad smarting from the psychological trauma of two AFCON final defeats and three premature exits, they keep coming back for more. The fraternal familiarity that is the team’s biggest strength can be traced back to the fabled academy of ASEC Mimosas, Ivory Coast’s most illustrious club.
At the 2006 World Cup, 11 members of the Ivory Coast squad were ASEC academy alma mater; in the 2010 edition, 13.
Click here to read the full story on the Ivory Coast football team.
And here are some more interesting stories:
One, two, Xavi’s coming for you… Spain midfield maestro vows to take revenge on Brazil for Confederation’s Cup loss.
Click here to read about Xavi’s desire to beat Brazil
Brazil 2014 won’t get the Stroot; Netherlands and Roma midfield star Kevin Strootman ruled out through injury.
Click here to get the sad news for Netherlands fans
Jack be nimble, Jack be fit; Arsene Wenger thinks Jack Wiltshire is always injured because his pain threshold is too high.
Click here for the curious assessment on Jack Wiltshire’s injury problems
No loyalty bonuses: England manager Roy Hodgson won’t take Wiltshire to Brazil unless he’s 100 percent fit.
Click here to read why Roy Hodgson is not making any promises to Jack Wiltshire
Editor’s Note: What do you expect from the Ivory Coast at the Brazil 2014 World Cup? And do you think Xavi will have his revenge on the World Cup hosts? Scroll down and let us know in the comments section.