Ivory Coast set to send out final message to Portugal and Brazil
Although the strength of their side is unquestionable – they have a squad brimming with talent based in the best leagues in the world – it seems that the Ivory Coast have been labelled World Cup dark horses for too long.
The tag was deserved when they made their World Cup debut in Germany in 2006, when they were unfortunate to crash out early after being drawn alongside heavyweights Holland and Argentina.
But four years on, with world class players now established internationally as well as at the highest level of club football, the dark horses tag no longer seems to fit.
Instead, Didier Drogba and co., led by the vastly-experienced Sven Goran-Eriksson, will no longer be an unknown quantity, and despite being once again drawn against tough opposition in Portugal and Brazil, they will be expected to produce.
This morning, they’ll end their warm-up with a game against Japan in Sion, Switzerland, after drawing 2-2 with Paraguay last week.
Both sides should name their strongest sides, offering a clear indication as to how they will fare in South Africa, and with the Japanese having lost all three of their preparation games, Ivory Coast will start as favourites.
A strong performance will send their clearest signal out yet that this side can finally compete with genuine international powerhouses, after their performance at the recent African Cup of Nations again underwhelmed.
They’re currently 33/1 to win the World Cup, but while many may not be quite confident enough to back them to win the tournament, the 4/1 available for them to win what is likely to be a tightly-contested Group G could prove tempting.