Didier Drogba is wildly popular in Côte d’Ivoire. Every second child wears a Drogba Chelsea or Côte d’Ivoire replica shirt. There is even a beer named after him. But for all of his fame and talent (and those of the other highly skilled bunch of Ivoirians who are plying their trade at top teams all over Europe) the people of Côte d’Ivoire are not expecting World Cup success.
Ivoirians are quick to play down their team’s chances of success at World Cup 2010.
“They are too big for their own boots.”
“They are not playing with their hearts when they play for Côte d’Ivoire, they are more concerned about making money for their clubs.”
“We are in the group of death, Portugal have Ronaldo and other top players we cannot compete with them and Brazil is Brazil, they are just too good. We couldn’t even reach the semi finals of the African Nations championships.”
It is hard to argue with some of that logic.
But it seems that underneath their modesty, Ivoirians are quietly confident that their national team can go far in the World Cup. My thinking is that it all comes down to that first game against Portugal. Côte d’Ivoire’s players need to restore their confidence. If Côte d’Ivoire wins that first game — and they most certainly can — then they could go very far, maybe even all the way. Wouldn’t it be great if an African team were to win Africa’s first ever FIFA World Cup?
Written by Andrew Aris on Friday, April 16th, 2010