Manager: Sabri Lamouchi
Best finish: Group stages (2006, 2010)
World Cup record: P 9, W 3, D 1, L 5
It could well be a case of third time lucky for the Ivorians who, on their two previous appearances, have been drawn alongside some of the giants of the game and looked doomed from the start. In 2006, they were third in a group containing Argentina, Netherlands and Serbia and Montenegro; while in South Africa they were third again behind Brazil and Portugal and ahead of North Korea.
With the vast array of attacking talent at his disposal, Frenchman Lamouchi does his best to get it on the pitch. Didier Drogba remains an imposing lone frontman, who can bring the likes of the revitalised Gervinho, Salomon Kalou and Yaya Toure into play. Wilfried Bony of Swansea City has also been utilised in what generally translates into a 4-2-3-1.
All Star - Yaya Toure
Alright, midfield man mountains aren’t really Pep Guardiola’s bag but what was he thinking getting rid of Yaya Toure? The €30m might have played a part but that’s no excuse. Birthday boo-hoo aside, it’s difficult to think of a more influential midfielder on the planet. Toure contributed 24 goals in 46 starts for Man City this season, he could dismantle defences that don’t fully appreciate his power this month.
County Colours - Down
Big wins in early 90s but still waiting to bridge that gap.
Pundit’s Corner - Richard Keyes: “Yeah, these boys can smash it, can’t they? Eh? Eh? Know what I mean? Say no more!”
This could be their time to make that leap into the knockout stages. Their bitter experience from the last two campaigns may be vital. Some of the squad are getting on a bit, but they deserve one last push and spared the threat of two giants of world football in their group, it can be achieved. Their defence is a concern, however, though whether Greece or Japan have the firepower to really test it, is another matter.
Goalkeepers: 1 Boubacar Barry (Lokeren/Bel), 16 Sylvain Gbohouo (Sewe Sport), 23 Sayouba Mande (Stabaek, Nor).
Defenders: 2 Viera Diarrassouba (Caykur Rizespor, Tur), 3 Arthur Boka (VfB Stuttgart, Ger), 4 Kolo Toure (Liverpool, Eng), 5 Didier Zokora (Trabzonspor, Tur), 7 Jean-Daniel Akpa Akpro (Toulouse, Fra), 17 Serge Aurier (Toulouse, Fra), 18 Constant Djakpa (Eintracht Frankfurt, Ger), 22 Souleyman Bamba (Trabzonspor, Tur).
Midfielders: 6 Mathis Bolly (Fortuna Dusseldorf, Ger), 9 Cheick Tiote (Newcastle United, Eng), 13 Didier Ya Konan (Hannover 96, Ger), 14 Ismael Diomande (St Etienne, Fra), 15 Max Gradel (St Etienne, Fra), 19 Yaya Toure (Manchester City, Eng), 20 Geoffroy Serey Die (Basel, Swi),
Forwards: 8 Salomon Kalou (Lille/Fra), 10 Gervinho (AS Roma/ Ita), 11 Didier Drogba (Galatasaray, Tur), 12 Wilfried Bony (Swansea City/ Wal), 21 Giovanni Sio (Basel. Swi).
IVORY COAST (v Japan): 1 Boubacar Barry; 17 Serge Aurier, 22 Souleyman Bamba (yc), 5 Didier Zokora (yc), 3 Arthur Boka (18 Constant Djakpa, 75 mins); 19 Yaya Toure, 9 Cheick Tiote, 20 Geoffroy Serey Die (11 Didier Drogba, 62 mins); 10 Gervinho, 12 Wilfried Bony (13 Didier Ya Konan, 78 mins), 8 Salomon Kalou.
IVORY COAST (v Colombia): 1 Boubacar Barry; 17 Serge Aurier, 5 Didier Zokora (yc), 22 Souleyman Bamba, 3 Arthur Boka; 20 Geoffroy Serey Die (6 Mathis Bolly, 73 mins), 9 Cheick Tiote (yc); 10 Gervinho, 19 Yaya Toure, 15 Max Gradel (8 Salomon Kalou, 67 mins); 12 Wilfried Bony (11 Didier Drogba, mins).
IVORY COAST (v Greece): 1 Boubacar Barry; 17 Serge Aurier, 4 Kolo Toure, 22 Souleyman Bamba, 3 Arthur Boka; 20 Geoffroy Serey Die (yc), 9 Cheick Tiote (12 Wilfried Bony, 61 mins); 8 Salomon Kalou (yc), 19 Yaya Toure, 10 Gervinho (21 Giovanni Sio, 83 mins); 11 Didier Drogba (yc) (14 Ismael Diomande, 78 mins).