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Nickname: Les Éléphants (The Elephants)
Number of World Cup appearances: 1
Best World Cup finish: Group stage (2006)
Once qualified, many pegged Ivory Coast as the tournament dark horse and Africa’s best hope to raise the trophy on home soil. Once the group pairings were announced, the West African nation found itself yet again in the precarious position as a member of the ‘World Cup Group of Death’. Their World Cup debut in 2006 was a similar story, being stuck with world powers Netherlands and Argentina. This time around they will clash with Brazil and Portugal. Still, despite wanting to harbor bad feelings about their draw, hope and optimism should be echoed from supporters of the Elephants.
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After sacking Bosnian coach Vahid Halilhodzic after failing to reach the African Nations Cup semi-finals this past January, the Ivorian FA have been looking for an accomplished man to lead their country in South Africa. Guus Hiddink was most desired for this job but he withdrew his name.
Had the ‘King Midas’ of international football been appointed as head coach, it would have further improved this team’s chances of winning the World Cup, as his past successful jobs with Netherlands, South Korea, Australia and Russia had all been a big hit. Philippe Trousier, who coached domestically in the Ivory Coast and had other success with African nations like Nigeria, South Africa and Burkina Faso, is another option to lead the Elephants’ campaign this summer.
2010 Ivory Coast World Cup Odds
Ivory Coast is currently listed at 25/1 to win the World Cup.
They are 7/2 to win Group G.
Key Player To Watch
One of the five best players in the world, striker Didier Drogba, has risen to elite status and is rightfully considered the talisman of a very capable Ivory Coast squad. He is a brilliant finisher and few players are as physically strong as this center forward. He has been known for an inconsistent temperament, as was seen by a red card in a 2006 World Cup match, but his experience and pure abilities are second to none and one of the players set to flourish this summer.
Best Team Asset
Ivory Coast will attack, attack and attack, and when they get a stop on defense this African side will counterattack. Alongside Drogba, weapons like Salomon Kalou, Didier Zokora, Bakari Kone and Yaya Toure make this Ivorian strike force lethal. With 10 goals in six matches during the final round of qualifying, this group’s entertaining brand of football will be a fun thing to watch during group play and hopefully beyond.
Key Team Weakness
As much as there is to feel good about for this promising African football nation, one can’t help but consider how their flop in January’s Africa Cup of Nations will effect their physique and ability to produce on the world’s stage when it is all on the line. This team will score, but it will be key to see how they react when allowing goals. They will never be out of a match, but does this team on the rise actually believe they can win the World Cup?
Ivory Coast World Cup Predictions
Despite again being thrown to the wolves in the ‘Group of Death,’ things do look better this time around as opposed to four years ago. Right now they are favored second behind Brazil in Group G. Portugal is right on their heels, but overall it will be considered a disappointment if they don’t advance into the knockout stages. This squad is talented enough to beat both the Brazilians and Portuguese, yet also flimsy enough to fall to both as well. I think a split of these two matches would put them in a good spot to advance and a win over North Korea is a must and likely to happen. The Ivory Coast will find a better result in group play and once in the elimination round this is a team you do not want to see.
Key First Round Match (best betting opportunity)
Value won’t be an issue when looking for betting lines to back the Elephants. With matchups against Portugal and Brazil in their first two matches, we will quickly see where Ivory Coast stands. Prices like +150 and +170 will be available, and so betting both and getting a 1-1 split will yield a profit, and then you can attack a weaker North Korean side in their third match. I would say that is the way to go, as well as considering ‘overs’ in all three matches.
Ivory Coast World Cup Group Play Schedule
v. Portugal, June 15, 2010 – 10 p.m. ET at Nelson Mandela Bay (Port Elizabeth)
v. Brazil, June 20, 2010 – 2:30 p.m. ET at Soccer City (Johannesburg)
v. North Korea, June 25, 2010 – 10 a.m. at Mbombela (Nelspruit)
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