Cote D’Ivoire – Gambia Preview: Strengthening lead is crucial for the Elephants

With four points on top of Group C and with Tanzania and Morocco trailing by just one and two respectively, Cote D’Ivoire are anxious to reinforce their position

South Africa
Bamba, Boka, Zokora,
Tiote, Yaya, Ya,Serrey
Lacina,Kone, Gervinho


Danso, Samateh, Jagne, Jammeh
Savage, Gassama, Ceesay, Jaiteh
Ceesay, Nyassi

Cote D’Ivoire opened their 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign at home last June with a 2-0 win against Tanzania and later travelled to Morocco to snatch a vital away draw, which has kept them on top of Group C with four points.

However, their position remains volatile as the outcome of the other match of the group between Tanzania and Morocco could topple the Elephants from the summit and put their campaign in jeopardy. An outstanding triumph over bottom-placed Gambia may not guarantee the Ivorians the group’s berth, however, it would smooth their path and assure a comfortable lead ahead of their two apparently toughest games against Tanzania in an away fixture and the reverse clash at home against Morocco.

After yet another debacle at the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations, the Ivorian team may not draw the required home support at their ground of Felix Houphouet Boigny Stadium. Team captain Didier Drogba has been temporarily dropped from the outfit until he regains his top form. Many local fans that usually troop out to see the former

Chelsea talisman may not have any other reason to attend the game.
Although they have recorded only one point from their two games, Gambia have been quite impressive so far, after holding Morocco to a 1-1 draw at their home stadium in Bakau and losing narrowly to Tanzania 2-1 in their first away outing of the competition.

The Scorpions have never qualified for the Fifa World Cup or the Africa Cup of Nations, and many supporters believe that ambition does not exist in this campaign as well, but officials seem to want to use the competition as a litmus test of ongoing reforms within the setup as well as organisational innovations at the football federation.

  • Cote D’Ivoire will be playing with three home-based goalkeepers following the absence of first choice Copa Barry who is yet to recover from an injury.

  • The local media believe that the absence of the Elephants captain Didier Drogba may yield an opportunity for younger players to express themselves on the pitch.

  • Cote D’Ivoire coach said he might call up Didier Drogba for their next match against Gambia in June, depending on the outcome of Saturday’s game.

  • All the four officials to take charge of the Cote D’Ivoire – Gambia match are from Gabon.

  • Gambia coach Luciano Mancini split his squad into two batches comprising of home-based and foreign players. The locals camped in Niamey, Niger for four days before travelling to Abidjan.

  • Coach Luciano Mancini has declared that his team will be playing the star-studded Elephants with no fear and is confident of a win or a draw against the hosts.