BBC Sport football


Related BBC sites

Page last updated at 17:40 GMT, Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Drogba set for Ivory Coast return

Didier Drogba
Drogba has not played for the Ivory Coast since February

Striker Didier Drogba could return to action for Ivory Coast on Wednesday when they face Israel in one of nine friendlies involving African national teams.

The injury-plagued Chelsea ace is in Tel Aviv for the fixture as the top African nations start preparing for the final phase of 2010 World Cup qualifiers.

His last appearance for his country was in the African Nations Cup third-place loss to hosts Ghana after a six-goal thriller in Kumasi nine months ago.

The Elephants travel to the Middle East desperate to impress Bosnia-born coach Vahid Halihodzic after he labelled the star-studded squad "average".

"Since I took charge of the Ivory Coast this year I have heard the same analysis, the same words everywhere I go: 'Ah, Vahid, you have got a super team'," he explained.

"And each time I say the same thing: 'I don't have a super team. Perhaps there are some special footballers, but the team itself is still rather average.

"You in the media, and above all the supporters of the Elephants, need to know that there are better teams than us - even in Africa," said the coach who succeeded German Uli Stielike.

Among the teams Halihodzic could have been referring to are Egypt, Nations Cup winners a record six times who overcame Ivory Coast in the last two editions en route to glory.

The Pharaohs host Benin in Cairo and five of Al-Ahly team that won the African Champions League a record sixth time last Sunday have been chosen, including veteran midfielder Ahmed Hassan.

However, Hassan may be deprived of a 150th cap by an injury that forced him to limp off during the second half of the drawn return match in the final against Coton Sport Garoua of Cameroon.

South Africa assistant coach Pitso Mosimane is relishing the prospect of confronting Barcelona striker and three-time African Footballer of the Year Samuel Eto'o when they tackle Cameroon in the north-west town of Rustenburg.

"Everyone complained that our recent victories over Malawi and Ghana were against their second-string sides so we welcome the opportunity to play against stars like Eto'o as it will indicate where we stand," he told reporters.

Bafana Bafana, seeking a record-equalling fourth consecutive win, will be boosted by the presence of leading scorer Benni McCarthy, who opted to play despite the death of his father in Cape Town last week.

Injuries to key players rob Ghana of defender John Mensah and midfielders Sulley Muntari and Laryea Kingston while Andre 'Dede' Ayew - son of legendary Abedi 'Pele' Ayew - returns to the squad that tackles Tunisia in Accra.

Tunisia coach Humberto Coelho ignored players from Etoile du Sahel and CS Sfaxien, who clash Saturday in the Confederation Cup final, except for midfielder Mohamed Ali Nafkha, who is suspended from the club fixture.

Nigeria are another country hit by injury with Everton defender Joseph Yobo ruled out and Lokomotiv Moscow midfielder Osaze Odemwingie is unavailable for the long journey to Cali for a fixture against Colombia.

Angola, whose squad includes Al-Ahly midfielder Felisberto 'Gilberto' Amaral and striker Flavio Amado, also travel to South America, where they confront Venezuela in Barinas.

Fixtures between Tanzania and Mozambique in Dar es Salaam, Togo and Rwanda in Lome and Morocco and Zambia in Rabat complete the nine-match programme in the final outing this year for most African national teams.

Print Sponsor

see also
2010 World Cup tables
07 Jun 09 |  African
Nigeria squad hit by withdrawals
18 Nov 08 |  African
Breakdown of 2010 World Cup draw
22 Oct 08 |  African
Egypt handed favourable 2010 draw
22 Oct 08 |  African
2010 World Cup qualifying summary
12 Oct 08 |  African

related bbc links:

related internet links:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites