Ivory Coast can make it to the last 16
By Shai Mamou
Each time you ask an objective journalist, player, or even supporter, which African team has the best chances at the World Cup, he will answer you: “Ivory Coast”. But could it be different? Ok, Cameroon has Eto’o. But the Untameable Lions have no certainties and have not win a single game since January. Ghana is really in a poor state without Essien, Algeria does a leap in the dark and South Africa… Well, the fervor of the country is probably their only asset. So it leaves us with the Elephants. An amazing striker (Didier Drogba), a few powerful elements like the Touré brothers or Kalou from Chelsea, and a experienced coach (even if he’s a mercenary). Ivory Coast has arguments to make a good World Cup.
But there is one major problem. The group G is awfully hard for the Ivorians. Brazil, Portugal and North Korea. If it probably won’t be a fierce battle against the Asians, the Seleçaos are favorite to be in the final 16. Can the Elephants overcome their recurrent problems? Met in the stands of Hidalgo Stadium during the African Unity Experience (with Ghana and Cameroon) near Paris, Romaric N’Dri (Sevilla FC) explained: “We are all performant in Europe. But in the national team it’s much more difficult. So we’re trying to work on that, we’re talking a lot”. The midfielder also admits how important Drogba is: “Didier is the leader. He is fundamental for us because he listens and talk to everyone. Didier has been terrific with Chelsea this year and when he is good, everyone plays better.”
Cyril Domoraud (former Marseille and Ivory Coast defender), whom I talked with at the same event, agreed that the African teams needed “better organisation and discipline in their games”, but also a “fairer refereeing”. Against amazing squads as Brazil and Portugal, the Ivorians will need more than just a few strings pulled by the referee. But in my opinion, they definately have a chance. I even see them finishing second of the Group B, eliminating Portugal. With their draw against Cape Verde (0-0) last week, Cristiano Ronaldo and Cie showed their lack of cohesion and their absence collective strength. Ivory Coast will be much more difficult to play than their former colony… If IC gets the second place in groupe G, they will probably meet Spain, the favorite team for the bookmakers. Sven-Göran Eriksson, who is only there for a few months, will have to do miracles…