Elephant In The Room – Can Tiote’s Ivory Coast Go All The Way
An African country has never won the World Cup. They’ve barely even got close. The closest two were Cameroon, who made the Quarter Final during Italia ’90, and Ghana who were so controversially knocked out by Uruguay, and Luis Suarez’ hand, four years ago. This summer though, well things could be a little different.
And to be fair he may have a point. The Elephants were unfortunate to be on the end of a difficult group last time round, going up against Brazil and Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal in 2010, but with only Colombia who could really cause a great deal of problems (in their group) in Brazil, Ivory Coast will be determined to make it to the knockout stages.
Of course, they have plenty of experience too. It is likely to be the last tournament for the likes of Didier Drogba, Kolo Toure, and the irresistible Yaya, and with plenty of players in their prime to play alongside, the balance seems just right for Lamouchi’s men.
One man not least in his prime is Cheick Tiote. The 28-year-old has been an ever-present in the Newcastle side this year, and was a key ingredient in Alan Pardew’s side finishing 10th in the Premier League. So much so he’s been attracting the attention of the likes of Manchester City and Manchester United.
Cheick Tiote’s main focus fight now of course however, will be that first game against Japan on June 14. The centre-midfielder will be in good company, joining Yaya Toure in the middle of the park, and between them the pair will be far too strong for Japan, Greece, or even Colombia to over-power them.
Strength could prove to be a key factor in the wilting Brazilian heat, and with the possibility of facing England or Italy in the Second Round, who are less used to hot climates, it could be the difference between making the Quarter Final, and even beyond.
So far, their preparations have been faultless,they’ve balanced rest with fitness training in their pre-tournament training camp in Dallas, whilst just a couple of months ago they earned an impressive draw with dark-horses, the Belgians, no doubt boosting the Ivory Coast World Cup odds.
They will compliment this training with friendlies against El Salvador and Group F hopefuls Bosnia-Herzegovina, before touching down in Rio for what could be the perfect sign-off for the country’s hero Didier Drogba.
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