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Elephants bid for African history

By John James
BBC Sport, Abidjan

Ivorian fans with a poster of Didier Drogba
Didier Drogba is wildly popular but not the only key man in the Ivorian side

England coach Fabio Capello and Spain's Xavi no less have recently named Les Elephants as one of the danger teams in South Africa.

And there is a real feeling in Ivory Coast that it is 2010 or never for this team of talented stars.

They have been dubbed 'Generation Drogba', but have yet to win a major trophy.

But whilst Didier Drogba is the figurehead, there is more to this team than its captain.

In fact he was absent for much of the qualifying campaign.

Most of the squad, like Chelsea's Salomon Kalou, Manchester City's Kolo Touré, Barcelona's Yaya Touré and Arsenal's Emmanuel Eboué were discovered at Abidjan's Asec academy.

How Ivory Coast qualified for the World Cup

That shared experience gives the team its style; football with flair and players brought up to play anywhere on the pitch.

Their competitive home record has been remarkable - 21 goals with none conceded since September 2005.

Coach Vahid Halilhodzic frequently says he's got 'great players, but not a great team', but the teamwork has improved of late.

Ivorians are hoping things will be tighter at the back than in the last World Cup, where the team scored in every match but struggled to keep a clean sheet.

A kinder draw than in 2006 would give the side a fair chance of moving further in the competition and perhaps fulfilling the Ivorian federation's objective of a quarter-final place.

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see also
Super expectations for Nigeria
03 Dec 09 |  African
Bafana fans wait for 'miracle'
03 Dec 09 |  African
Algeria delight in 2010 place
03 Dec 09 |  African
Lions seek spirit of Italia '90
03 Dec 09 |  African
Black Stars experience is key
03 Dec 09 |  African
2010 World Cup
25 Oct 09 |  African
Who has qualified for South Africa 2010?
19 Nov 09 |  Internationals
World Cup 2010 map
05 Dec 09 |  Football

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