Ivory Coast Team Fact Box

2010-05-11 13:52
Previous appearances in finals: 1

Nickname: Les Éléphants (The Elephants)

Best performance: Group stages in 2006

Coach: Vahid Halilhodzic, who has amassed a record of nine wins, nine draws and a single loss since taking charge in May 2008. Bosnian-born Halilhodzic played for Yugoslavia at the 1982 World Cup finals and had a stellar playing career as a striker in France's Ligue 1 with Nantes and Paris St Germain. The 57-year-old is a former coach of several French clubs and Trabzonspor in Turkey.

Captain: Didier Drogba

Key players:

Didier Drogba
Age: 31
Position: Striker
Club: Chelsea

With 40 goals in 60 international appearances, Drogba has proved vital for his country. He took them to the final of the 2006 African Nations Cup and now two World Cup tournaments, although he missed half of the 2010 qualifiers through injury. At club level, he has won both league and cup honours in England with Chelsea, who signed him from Olympique Marseille.

Salomon Kalou
Age: 24
Position: Striker
Club: Chelsea

As an exciting teenage talent with Feyenoord, Kalou was the subject of a lengthy, but ultimately unsuccessful, bid to win Dutch nationality before the 2006 World Cup. Eventually debuted for the Ivorians, where elder brother Bonaventure had previously been captain.

Yaya Toure
Age: 26
Position: Midfield
Club: Barcelona

A huge physical presence in the centre of midfield, Toure has taken a circuitous route through clubs in five different countries before signing for European champions Barcelona two years ago.

FIFA world ranking May 2010: 16

How they qualified: The Ivorians finished qualification without defeat, going through 12 matches in two group phases and progressing comfortably. The death of at least 19 people in a stampede at their home stadium in Abidjan in March ahead of a qualifier cast a shadow over their campaign.

Prospects: They are arguably the strongest of the African teams and will carry the hopes of an expectant continent, but rely too much on Drogba for inspiration. There are also several weaknesses in key positions, which could cost them but with a few lucky breaks the Elephants could well become the first African side to advance past the last eight at a World Cup. 


Chelsea striker and Ivory Coast captain Didier Drogba will head up the strike force of arguably Africa's strongest team. (AFP)
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