WORLD CUP FORECAST: Group C – Can Ivory Coast’s fringe players support their stars?

The Ivory Coast, or Cote d’Ivoire, seemingly breezed through their African qualifying campaign with an undefeated eight-match run through the second round and the play-off.
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The Ivory Coast, or Cote d’Ivoire, seemingly breezed through their African qualifying campaign with an undefeated eight-match run through the second round and the play-off.

Sabri Lamouchi’s side looked assured throughout the process, accounting for Tanzania and Gambia, while sharing two draws with north Africa’s Morocco.

They then managed to successfully navigate Senegal in the play-off, which included a 3-1 first leg win at home, before wrapping up their qualification with a 1-1 draw.

It appears as though the Elephants cruised through their campaign – and they probably did – but you have to say that a team boasting such quality European-based players would be expected to overcome the obstacles that were placed before them.

Past performances in World Cups have seen the Ivorians bow out after the initial three-game phase and if their second-string players do not step up in Brazil, then that will likely be their fate once again.

Ivory Coast

Manager: Sabri Lamouchi

Fixtures: Japan - June 14 (Recife), Colombia - June 19 (Brasilia), Greece - June 24 (Fortaleza)

Past outings against group opponents: Ivory Coast have clashed with Japan on three previous occasions for one win and two losses. All meetings have been friendlies with the Elephants saluting 2-0 in Switzerland in 2010.

The Ivorians have never met Colombia or Greece at senior international level.

Key players: Didier Drogba (Galatasaray), Yaya Toure (Manchester City), Salomon Kalou (Lille), Wilfried Bony (Swansea City)

World Cup utopia: After their failure in 2010, reaching the group stage would be a massive success.

Doomsday scenario: Finishing bottom of Group C.

Qualified by virtue of: CAF play-off win vs Senegal (4-2 aggregate)

Best result at a World Cup: Group stage (2006, 2010)

tribal’s forecast:

At 35, you could forgive Drogba if he wanted to begin focusing on life after football but this man must eat the sport for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

The Chelsea icon has been in solid form for Galatasaray in Turkey this season and his recent international scoring record is absolutely stellar having netted 13 goals in 22 appearances since the start of 2012.

Along with Drogba, there is also the formidable figure of Yaya Toure in midfield. The Man City star is one of the most revered players in England and is sure to be at the top of his game after starring in his club’s Premier League triumph this term.

Then there is forgotten man Kalou, who has been consistently finding the back of the net for Lille in France, and Swansea’s Bony who experienced a prolific debut season in England with 26 goals in all competitions.

Lamouchi knows exactly what he will get from this foursome but will be relying on the next tier of Ivorian players to stand up and be counted when it matters.

With Colombia expected to top the group, it will be a three-way fight for second position with Japan and Greece and if the likes of Cheick Tiote, Didier Ya Konan, Max Gradel and Gervinho can perform out of their skins, then the Elephants may sneak in to the knockout phase.

But some of these guys often play below their potential which leads us to believe that perhaps the Cote d’Ivoire could see their Brazilian journey end prematurely.

Prediction: Group stage elimination….just.

 
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