This Ivorian team is starting to age a little, with Kalou and Drogba possibly playing their last World Cups’. However in Bony, Toure, Drogba, Kalou and Gervinho, they have over 100 goals between them coming into the tournament. They have a decent group in Japan, Greece and Colombia, but do they have the guts? At previous competitions they tend to fall apart on the big stage. Will they do it again?
GK’s: Boubacar Barry, Sylvain Gbohouo, Sayouba Sande
DF’s: Kolo Toure, Sol Bamba, Didier Zokora, Serge Aurier, Arthur Boka, Ousmane Viera Diarrassouba, Constant Djakpa, Jean-Daniel Akpa-Akpro
MF’s: Yaya Toure, Cheik Tiote, Serey Die, Max Gradel, Diomande Ismael, Didier Ya Konan, Mathis Bolly
FW’s: Gervinho, Didier Drogba, Salomon Kalou, Wilfried Bony, Giovanni Sio
Coach – Sabri Lamouchi
Missing – Seydou Doumbia – an incredible striker, but playing in Russia, and with the form of Drogba and Bony, he never stood a chance.
In the initial phase of qualifying they finished top of their group of 4, unbeaten in 6 with 4 wins and two draws. In the next phase they faced a playoff against Senegal to qualify – and won the first leg 3-1, and then drew the 2nd 1-1. An easy route to the World Cup for them.
Ones to Watch:
Serge Aurier – The Toulouse man is wanted! Arsenal are hot on his tail and keen to recruit him to replace the outgoing Bacary Sagna. He had plenty of assists in Ligue 1 this season, being the standout Right-Back. A bright spark in an ageing side. Keep an eye on him!
Gervinho – despite being labelled a ‘Flop’ at Arsenal, he is really better than made out. At Roma he has had a fantastic season, scoring a wad of goals and helping Roma to 2nd place in the table behind Juventus. He has pace to spare, and can beat a man with ease, he has been showing his pre-Arsenal form, like he did in South Africa.
Cheick Tiote – in recent times he has been quiet at Newcastle, not quite the player of two seasons ago. For the Ivorians he is vital, acting as the destroyer of opposition play in his half, and starting attacks. If he rediscovers his 2011/12 form they will do well.
(4-3-3): Barry, Aurier, K Toure, Zokora, Boka, Tiote, Die, Y Toure, Gervinho, Drogba, Kalou.
4-3-3 is used so coach Sabri Lamouchi can use as many of his attacking talents as possible. Gervinho plays LW, Kalou RW and Drogba as a striker. It’s hard to see too many flaws with this side – experience all round, mixed with some youth with the likes of Aurier.
Winner – 125/1
Group Winner – 7/2
To Qualify – Evens
Under 3.5 Points – Evens
Stage of Elimination: Group Stage – 8/13
Unfortunately, I can’t see them qualifying past the group stage. Much like the old Belgium – they have all the big names but rarely play well together at big tournaments. Value for us is Exit at Group Stage at 8/13, and our Top Tip of Under 3.5 Points at Evens.