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Goalkeepers: Boubacar Barry (Lokeren), Sylvain Gbohouo (Sewe Sport), Ali Sangare Badra (Asec Mimosas), Sayouba Sande (Stabaek);

Defenders: Kolo Toure (Liverpool), Sol Bamba (Trabzonspor), Didier Zokora (Trabzonspor), Serge Aurier (Toulouse), Arthur Boka (Stuttgart), Benjamin Angoua (Valenciennes), Ousmane Viera Diarrassouba (Caykur Rizespor), Constant Djakpa (Frankfurt), Brice Dja Djedje (Marseille), Jean-Daniel Akpa-Akpro (Toulouse);

Midfielders: Yaya Toure (Manchester City), Cheik Tiote (Newcastle), Serey Die (Basel), Max Gradel (Saint Etienne), Diomande Ismael (Saint Etienne), Didier Ya Konan (Hannover), Mathis Bolly (Dusseldorf);

Forwards: Gervinho (Roma), Didier Drogba (Galatasaray), Salomon Kalou (Lille), Wilfried Bony (Swansea), Seydou Doumbia (CSKA Moscow), Lacina Traore (Everton), Giovanni Sio (Basel).

In their third consecutive time of qualifying for the World Cup, Ivory Coast have shown much promise in the qualification stages, and look likely to make more of an impression in this year's tournament. The squad looks more balanced this time around, and a fairly easier group puts the Ivorians at an advantage. The strike force is the team's strongest point, most notably the talismanic Didier Drogba; Galatasaray's hitman will forever remain a threat to any team's defence, and can link up well with former Chelsea teammate Salomon Kalou, scoring 18 goals for Lille this season. Former Arsenal winger Gervinho has been an unpredictable player, but he seems to have come into his own at Roma, enjoying a relatively good season. Wilfried Bony is another star from the Premier League who has shown promise, and should also be considered for a lead role in the squad. The two main threats in the midfield are easily Newcastle's Cheick Tiote and, of course, Manchester City's midfield maestro Yaya Toure. With Yaya coming off of a fantastic season with City, he will no doubt be looking to demonstrate his playmaking prowess as he aims to conquer the centre, with Tiote looking to provide support for what seems to be a minimal but strong midfield. Didier Zokora is also able to provide support with a defensive role, and can also drop back to centre-back should the need arise. The Elephants' defence in question sees brother of Yaya and Liverpool defender Kolo Toure heading up the centre-backs, with Sol Bamba to provide support if Zokora moves into the midfield. Full-backs Arthur Boka and Serge Aurier have proved to provide adequate support down the wings for quick attacks, with the latter being linked to Arsenal as a potential replacement to compensate for Bacary Sagna's departure. However, the omission of Emmanuel Eboue from the squad is a bold move for Sabri Lamouchi, who is choosing to ignore the experience and ability of the Galatasaray and former Arsenal right-back; whether it was a wise decision to drop the player remains to be seen, of course - Ivory Coast have remained undefeated in their qualifying campaign, and they may well continue their great form.

Star player:


There's no argument that The Elephants' star player would be anyone other than Yaya Toure. After producing yet another stunning season which saw Manchester City lift the Premier League trophy once again, Yaya will enter the tournament on a high note and continue his sterling form by looking to command control of the midfield. Yaya has also scored a total of six goals for his country in 2013 (the most he has scored in any year during his international career), with four of those being scored in six qualifiers; it's truly a given that we expect him to really shine during the tournament, any agent shenanigans aside.


Another player to keep tabs on is, of course, Didier Drogba. The former Chelsea striker is Ivory Coast's all-time top goalscorer with 62 goals to his name, and with this tournament looking to be the last for his country, he will want to go out with a bang. With Kalou also demonstrating a promising run in recent international fixtures, both he and Drogba will be looking to beat any lacklustre defences and will surely capitalise on any scoring opportunities.




Predicted finish:

With the momentum that the team has mustered in recent matches, I believe that Ivory Coast are more than capable of going through to the next round. With Colombia looking to be their most difficult opponent - what with the stalwart Radamel Falcao leading the strike force - I can see Japan falling to the Ivorians. Greece, however, have a decent tournament track record, and are well known for causing upsets, so the result could potentially go either way. If Ivory Coast do qualify for the second stage, they will most likely face England, Italy or Uruguay; the Ivorians will most definitely put up a solid fight, but I do believe that they will just only manage to make it out of the group stages. - Second round.


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