Drogba and co to end Ivory Coast’s World Cup hoodoo
After being handed impossible missions in 2006 and 2010, Ivory Coast finally got the World Cup group-stage draw their rapid progress over the past decade deserves and look a cracking price at 10/11 to reach the second round in Brazil.
The west African nation made its World Cup debut almost eight years ago, but taking on Argentina and the Netherlands was always going to be a thankless task and so it proved, although Ivory Coast only suffered narrow defeats to each and beat Serbia and Montenegro to finish third in the group.
They would have hoped for better luck in 2010 on their home continent, but Brazil and Portugal dumped them out in South Africa, despite Sven-Goran Eriksson’s men beating North Korea 3-0 and holding the European Selecao to a goalless draw.
Since former Inter Milan chief Sabri Lamouchi took over as manager in May 2012, Ivory Coast have only lost one of their 13 competitive internationals, in the African Nations Cup final against Nigeria 12 months ago.
Lamouchi’s side breezed through their qualifying group before seeing off Senegal in the play-offs, all but ensuring victory after winning the first leg 3-1 at home.
Their line up in that match against the Lions of Teranga included Newcastle spoiler Cheick Tiote, former Chelsea legend Didier Drogba and Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure, who’s form this season ranks amongst the best in the world.
Experienced Premier League campaigners Kolo Toure, Gervinho, Didier Zokora and Salomon Kalou are all still involved, as are Swansea striker Wilfried Bony and Monaco newboy Lacina Traore, so the Elephants are likely to travel to South America with their strongest ever World Cup touring party.
However, the reason they’re such a cracking bet to make the first knockout stage is the company they’ll be keeping early on in Brazil.
Colombia are 5/6 favourites to top Group C, despite star man Radamel Falcao’s knee injury almost certainly ruling him out of the summer jamboree, while Greece have never made it past the preliminary rounds of a World Cup in their history.
With Japan – who have crashed out at the first hurdle in two of the last four renewals of the tournament – completing the Group C line-up, Drogba and co will have their eye on top spot at 10/3 odds, never mind just qualifying.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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