Football

Ivory Coast could spring a surprise in the World Cup

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The Ivory Coast's current crop of talent is considered the best they have ever produced. I for one cannot think of a time when they have had so many established stars all in the same squad. Which has led many to believe that they could make a real impact at this World Cup.

So far they have been solid and look favourites to qualify in Group C ahead of Japan. A 2-1 victory in their first game followed by a 2-1 reverse on June 19 against group favourites Colombia that stuttered their progress somewhat, but if they better Japan's result in their final group game they will qualify most likely in second place.

Based on recent results they most likely could be playing Costa Rica if they avoid defeat in their last game against recently outed England.

Much of their recent success has been down to their wealth of attacking talent and improved defence, combined with speed, athleticism and a dabble of world class talent, names such as Didier Drogba, Yaya Toure, Salomon Kalou have all been affiliated with top teams around Europe.

Drogba especially, who at the age of 36 has just finished a season at Galatasaray, scored 14 goals and has been linked with a possible return to former club Chelsea, is particularly dangerous.

Their record in major tournaments is not great and they have only ever won the African Cup of Nations once in their history in 1992, but it's a sign of the times that African nations are now starting to get to the knockout stages more often. Should they progress from this group it will be the furthest they have ever been.

Another player that will be key in their side is the raging behemoth of a man Yaya Toure, The younger brother of Kolo he has had a sensational season in England scoring 24 goals from central midfield for his club Manchester City and his elegant yet brutally powerful frame reeks havoc against any midfield he plays against. People know what he is going to do it's just a shame that they don't know how to stop him as he scythes through defences more often than not.

The wealth of attacking talent doesn't stop there. Gervinho is a man reborn since his unhappy stint in England with Arsenal where perhaps he didn't get accustomed to the speed of the league as quickly as they liked but he has reinvented himself and is now a key player in a Roma side who have been challenging Juventus for the title.

He has also brought goals to his game where before he seemed to lack an end product as do many tricky wingers who come to the Premier League to ply their trade.

Wilfried Bony seems like a like for like replacement for Drogba. His efforts last season almost certainly kept Swansea City from being involved in a relegation scrap and 25 goals in all competitions in his first season is quite a staggering effort when you think that at times he didn't look quite as fit as the league demands.

Clinical and a massive threat in the air despite not being obscenely tall, he has attracted the attention of Tottenham and Liverpool according to reports.

With having all this attacking potential one must think where their failings are. It comes back to the old adage about African sides not being able to defend and being all about physicality.

This doesn't have a ring of truth about it, the exception being Kolo Toure, but his advancing age has also had a detrimental effect on his abilities, and the squad is lacking in defensive talent.

Most of the defensive minded players in the team don't play in top sides which doesn't automatically mean they are bad players, far from it, but it doesn't show a lot of confidence.

Serge Aurier and Cheick Tiote are probably the two more technical defensive units of the sides both have been linked with Arsenal recently.

The keeper Boboucar Barry is an experienced campaigner plying his trade for Lokeren, a solid if unspectacular man between the posts has at least brought some consistency to their rearguard.

With their current standing aside I think they have the ability to make it out of the group and personally I think they could also beat Costa Rica if they do indeed win their group as expected.

A win would then carry them to the quarter final where most would expect their journey will end but the ageing elephants may plough on further than we expect them to as we've seen bigger shocks have happened already in this World Cup - so don't be so keen to dismiss the threat so easily!

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This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of GiveMeSport.com or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. GiveMeSport.com and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

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