Africa Cup Of Nations PUMA Team Guide #3: Côte d'Ivoire

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Ivory

With a team full of world-class stars and a great team spirit, The Elephants enter the tournament as strong favourites...

Previous tournament form…

Until recently, the West African nation had an average record in the Cup of Nations, having only ever made it past the group stages once, when they reached the quarter-finals in 1986. Then in 2006, with their biggest stars on fire, they finished as runners up to Egypt after a cruel penalty loss in the final. In the two tournaments since, the Elephants have made it to the semi and quarter-finals respectively.

How they qualified...

Played six, won six, scored 19 and conceded four is a qualifying record that you really couldn't improve on, and only the harshest critics would make an issue of conceding four goals in six matches. The form team coming in to the tournament, they handed out a 6-2 thrashing to Benin during qualification.

Star players…

Where do you start? The Elephants’ squad is full of world-class footballers, yet the two they really turn to when things are going against them are Didier Drogba and PUMA star Yaya Touré. Drogba scored four of his 51 international goals in qualification and is an icon for his performances as the focal point of the attack, while Touré is the engine of the team, taking the ball from defence, breaking up opposition play and scoring important goals with late runs into the box.

Watch out for...

Seydou Doumbia, who has scored 102 goals in his last 136 club games. With Drogba now 34, the pacy and clinical striker is the future of the team and will be looking for a strong tournament to add to his reputation as one of the most wanted strikers in European football.

The man in charge...

A bustling midfielder in his playing days, François Zahoui has forged a great team spirit since taking over from Sven Goran Eriksson and is committed to getting the maximum out of every player rather than just relying on the superstars. Tactically smart, he demands a high workrate.

Style of play…

At times thrilling. The team has an incredibly strong spine, which allows the many flair players to attack without fear, and the Elephants are known for scoring whenever the mood takes them. Physical in defence and quick on the break, they probably deserve to be higher than 16th in the FIFA Rankings.

Most likely to…

Have a high-scoring penalty shoot out. The team have been involved in the two highest in international football history and won both, 11-10 against Ghana in the 1992 tournament, and 12-11 against Cameroon in 2006.

Least likely to…

Finish second in the group stages. They have finished top in both of the last tournaments and are strong favourites to do so again.

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