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#Brazinga2014: World Cup Team Profile - Ivory Coast

Wednesday, 25 June 2014 - 12:27am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: AFP

Ivory Coast are just a match away from qualification. Ivory Coast are currently on the second spot with three points. A single point is enough to see them qualify. However, if they lose to Greece, then Greece go through. It is a must win match for Greece.

Country Profile:

Population: 21 million

Area: 322,463 km2

Capital: Yamoussoukro

Currency: Franc CFA

Federation: Fedération Ivoirienne de Football, founded in 1960, affiliated to FIFA en 1961.

Registered players: 23,200

Colours: Orange shirts, white shorts, green socks.

World Cup appearances: 3 (2006, 2010, 2014).

World Cup record: first round (2006, 2010).

CAN appearances: 18 (1965, 1968, 1970, 1974, 1980, 1984, 1986, 1988, 1990, 1992, 1994, 1996, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2006, 2008, 2010).

CAN honours winner: (1992), finalist (2006, 2012), 3rd (1965, 1968, 1986, 1994), 4th (1970, 2008), second-round (2010, 2013).

How they qualified: Came 1st in Group C with 14pts ahead of Morocco 9, Tanzania 6 and Gambia 4, with 4wins, 2 draws, 0 defeats, 15 goals for and 5 against. Then beat Senegal 3-1 and 1-1 in the play-off.

Top clubs: ASEC Mimosas, Africa Sports, Stade Abidjan.

Key players: Didier Drogba, Yaya Touré, Kolo Toure, Didier Zokora, Salomon Kalou.

Coach: Sabri Lamouchi (since May 2012).

During the qualifiers Ivory Coast edged out Morocco and Tanzania with relative ease, despite two draws with the North Africans, before beating a good Senegal side in the play-offs 4-2 on aggregate. Out in Brazil, Ivory Coast will be hoping that its attractive front line of Drogba, Gervinho, Kalou and Yaya Toure live up to their billing as the side's strong point. The potential heir to Drogba's throne is Wilfried Bony, 24, who scored 36 goals in Holland in 2012-13 with Vitesse Arnhem, before impressing in his debut season for Swansea in the Premier League. On the other hand, the backline is a real worry for the Elephants with Lokeren 'keeper Boubacar Barry often left exposed. A second shortcoming, one often shared with other African outfits, is the tendency to lose possession too easily.

Another typically African problem is in finding the right coach, but this time Ivory Coast seem to be onto a winner with 42-year-old former French international Sabri Lamouchi. And while this tournament may be the last chance saloon for the elder generation, there are plenty of younger and talented men hammering at the door. Many of them are products of the Sol Beni Academy, a youth development centre at Abidjan club ASEC Mimosas. It is to the Ivory Coast what the La Masia youth team of Barcelona is to Spain. Its influence on the rise of the national game cannot be underestimated and the European leagues are already littered with former Sol Beni graduates.

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