The Elephants are aiming to stick to their tradition of starting off well in their first group game against the Togolese, who are returning with unpredictability
Bamba, Toure, Tiene
Toure, Zokora, Gradel, Tiote
Drogba, Gervinho, Traore
Dare, Mamah, Sadate, Bossou
Komlan, Segbefia, Alaixys, Dove
Ivory Coast are now fully conscious of the fact that talent and experience alone will not put an end to their decade-long trophy drought. Although they finished the year 2012 at 14th position in the Fifa ranking ahead of Uruguay, Brazil and France, and they are considered the number one African team across the previous 12 months, they are not comfortable with being tipped as the favourite for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations title.
This is not the first time the golden generation is being favoured to clinch the title, which has remained elusive. They now prefer a low profile instead, with the logic of putting every other team on top as possible winners, perhaps relieving the pressure in the process. Could it be a strategy, characteristic modesty or pretence? Nobody can tell for sure at the moment, not even coach Sabri Lamouchi, who has earned some trust from officials and local fans since taking over from Francois Zahoui in May.
The former Inter midfielder says Algeria and Tunisia are the teams to beat in Group D and that Togo are a tricky side that no coach would handle without caution.
Togo have been absent from the continental scene for more than two years during which the football federation endured numerous internal crises which did not permit any meaningful progress in the country’s football.
Coach Didier Six, who was appointed in November 2011, has been able to sustain the vision and objectives of the Sparrow Hawks in the midst of confusion, negligence and interference from the authorities and the FA. However, he has confessed his inability to solve the team’s many problems, such as issues relating to his captain Emmanuel Adebayor and goalkeeper Kossi Agassa.
Opening against the continent’s best team will be a major challenge for the ambitious Frenchman, who, beside his bosses’ objective to qualify the team to the knockout phase, wants to prove that he is a great coach.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
There are six English Premier League players in the Cote d'Ivoire 2013 Afcon squad and five French Ligue 1 players.
Despite the star-studded Ivorian team, they still came with one home based player, Badra Ali Sangare, who is the outfit’s third choice goalkeeper.
Didier Drogba has reiterated that this edition will be his last with the Elephants, although he said he would be playing in the 2014 World Cup if they happen to qualify.
Togo are currently ranked 77 on the Fifa table after losing six points, but are still ahead of Angola and Senegal.
Emmanuel Adebayor remains Togo's all-time top scorer with 26 goals.
- Togo had their worst defeat in 1979, losing 7-0 to Morocco, while they registered their greatest victory against Swaziland 6-0 in 2008.