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Page last updated at 17:45 GMT, Friday, 25 June 2010 18:45 UK

World Cup 2010: Eriksson proud of departing Ivory Coast

Ivory Coast captain Didier Drogba
Drogba has scored 42 goals for Ivory Coast

Ivory Coast boss Sven Goran Eriksson was proud of his players and predicted a great footballing future for the country despite their World Cup exit.

The Elephants beat North Korea 3-0 but missed out on the last 16 as Portugal clinched second place in Group G.

Eriksson, who is now expected to leave his post, said: "They should be very proud of themselves and the county should be proud of them.

"We play good football and I think the future belongs to this country."

Ivory Coast's hopes of reaching the second round always seemed against the odds as they needed to not only emphatically beat their opponents to make up an enormous goal deficit, but also hope that Portugal lost to Brazil in the other fixture in the group.

Portugal's goalless draw against the group leaders meant the Elephants' result in their final fixture was ultimately irrelevant.

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Eriksson, however, believed their performance against the Koreans, in the first half especially, meant the team could go to future tournaments with confidence.

"I am very happy because this team is getting better and better, maybe not individually, but in discipline and organisation," he continued.

"They want to learn, they want to work, it's been fantastic few weeks I've had with this team, their a happy team.

"The future of football in this country is great - they had a youth tournament in France, which they won, so the players are coming in from behind, too.

"This team has the African Cup of Nations in two years' time and in four years' time another World Cup where a lot of these players can play again. They were brilliant, especially in the first half."

Eriksson added he had no regrets about being cautious in the opening game against Portugal, which ended goalless.

"If you look at the game against Portugal, if anyone was going to score it was Ivory Coast," stated the former England manager.

"They kept the discipline, they kept organisation so I can't be negative against them.

"[We could have] taken bigger risk in the last 10 minutes, but you rarely do that in the first game of the World Cup, knowing that at the other side, if they've got some space, they've got a man called [Cristiano] Ronaldo.

"You could not have imagined that North Korea would lose 7-0 against Portugal, that's an unreal result."

Eriksson was at a loss to explain why Ghana were the only African team to progress to the knockout stages of the first World Cup to be staged in Africa.

"It's a surprise for me, you would think that with the World Cup in Africa that more of the teams should have gone through," the 62-year-old Swede commented.

"I really don't know why, we wished we had been in another group but it's done and I think the team can leave the World Cup with their heads high."

Ivory Coast captain Didier Drogba said even being at the World Cup had been a fantastic achievement for his countrymen.

"Our World Cup is over but I think we can be proud of what we did against Portugal and what we did against North Korea," added Drogba.

"It was difficult for us to go through and I think the Fifa rankings have been respected. We are disappointed but at the same time you cannot be too disappointed when you're in a group like this.

"We are a good team, we have good players but I think those two teams are better than us, even though we showed we could compete against Portugal.

"If we were in a better group, maybe we would go through, you never know. I think we were unlucky but for a country like Ivory Coast, to be in a World Cup twice [in 2006 and 2010] is something fantastic.

"To be able to play against Brazil and Portugal, it's like a dream for our country. We were unlucky but at the same time we're really happy to play the best nations."



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see also
Team tracker and Predictor
27 May 10 |  World Cup 2010
World Cup venues
05 Dec 09 |  World Cup 2010
World Cup day 15 photos
25 Jun 10 |  World Cup 2010
Friday's World Cup round-up
25 Jun 10 |  World Cup 2010


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