World Cup Preview, Group C: Ivory Coast
Will there be one last hurrah for the Golden Generation? A lot will depend on a man whose birthday one dare not miss…
Providing he’s not still sulking over his birthday *ahem* ‘snub’ and not too distracted by whoring himself out to PSG, Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure might just inspire his country to a decent run in Brazil.
Immense for City when they really needed him towards the end of the season, there are few better central midfielders in the world than Toure when he’s on form and with Didier Zokora and Cheick Tiote likely to provide a defensive shield in midfield, Toure won’t have to worry too much about the defensive duties that occasionally slip his mind when he’s playing in club colours.
Serge Aurier. The 21-year old Toulouse defender has been strongly linked with a move to Arsenal this summer and as a pacey-full-back fond of overlapping and capable of a decent delivery, he would appear to be a perfect replacement for the outgoing Bacary Sagna at the Emirates.
Did you know?
The Elephants (what a nickname by the way) won’t mind too much if they reach the knockout stages and have to contest a penalty shoot-out, having won the two highest-scoring penalty shoot-outs in international football, beating Ghana 11-10 in the African Cup of Nations in 1992 and Cameroon 12-11 in the same tournament in 2006. That’s England goosed if they end up meeting them in the last 16.
Reasons for Irish fans to support them
Their flag is the Irish flag backwards and such are our strong ties with the Ivory Coast that a few Irish fans were even supporting the Ivory Coast during the Euros two summers ago, even though they’re not even in the same continent…
If they were a TV series
They’d be Sex and the City. They arguably reached their peak a few years back, with an ageing cast of characters striving desperately to return to the glory days but unlikely to do so.
Seeing as they’ve failed to get out of their group in the last two World Cups and they’ve failed to win the most recent editions of the African Nations Cup despite being heavily tipped to do so, there’s an inclination to predict another disappointing campaign for Sabri Lamouchi’s side this time around.
It’s likely to be a fight between themselves and Japan for a place in the knockout stages, which makes the opening clash between the sides in Recife so, so important. We feel that, with the likes of Didier Drogba, Gervinho and Wilfried Bony providing a decent supporting cast, a Yaya Toure-inspired outfit will sneak out of the group. Alas, it is there that their journey will likely come to an end.
Tournament odds with Ladbrokes: 150/1