Coach Sabri Lamouchi opted to start with Wilfried Bony leading the line in between Salomon Kalou and Gervinho.
Drogba eventually entered the match after the hour mark with the Elephants trailing 1-0 after a close range Keisuke Honda effort. The former Chelsea striker inspired an improvement in his teammates, however, and less than five minutes after his entrance, the Africans were 2-1 up following goals from Bony and Gervinho.
"Yes, I was disappointed," Drogba told L’Equipe about his omission. "But I must also show respect to those who started and support them.
"When I came on, I just wanted to help the group win the match and I had no need for this disappointment to be motivated.
"It’s a beautiful victory. We are content with the result. We prepared ourselves for this for several weeks and it was important to have a good start in the tournament.
"Now, this result will be even more important if we manage a good one against Colombia."
Lamouchi was pleased with the former Chelsea star's contribution to the match, heaping praise upon him afterwards.
"To have a player like Didier Drogba in one’s team, starting or substitute, it changes a match.
"The players are very happy with the victory, but we are not yet qualified."