Outright odds: 150/1
To win group: 4/1
To qualify: 11/10
Full squad: Boubacar Barry (Lokeren), Sylvain Gbohouo (Sewe Sport), Sayouba Mande (Stabaek), Jean-Daniel Akpa Akpro (Toulouse), Serge Aurier (Toulouse), Souleyman Bamba (Trabzonspor), Arthur Boka (VfB Stuttgart), Viera Diarrassouba (Caykur Rizespor), Constant Djakpa (Eintracht Frankfurt), Kolo Toure (Liverpool), Didier Zokora (Trabzonspor), Geoffroy Serey Die (Basel), Ismael Diomande (St Etienne), Max Gradel (St Etienne), Cheick Tiote (Newcastle United), Yaya Toure (Manchester City), Didier Ya Konan (Hannover 96), Mathis Bolly (Fortuna Dusseldorf), Wilfried Bony (Swansea City), Didier Drogba (Galatasaray), Gervinho (AS Roma), Salomon Kalou (Lille), Giovanni Sio (Basel).
Manager: Sabri Lamouchi
World Cup record: Group stage (2006, 2010)
African hopes of success before a World Cup draw usually rest with the Ivory Coast and then another African side after the group draw has been made, but even a section such as this is a very fair draw compared to what they have been offered at the last two tournaments.
In 2006 they were drawn against Argentina, Holland, and then Serbia – where taking three points was a fair return – and then in 2010 they had to take on Brazil and Portgual either side of games against North Korea, holding out for a creditable 0-0 draw with Paulo Bento’s side.
In comparison, even a section with Greece, Colombia and Japan doesn’t look too bad and while this is very much a last chance for much of the golden generation that has impressed the Premier League since 2006, they have the tools in attack to make an impact today.
Gervinihio was a laughing stock at Arsenal but has had the season of his life since moving to Roma, scoring 9 times in the league alone but being far more influential in terms of creating chances for teammates – Roma scored 72 goals, just eight less than Juventus, over the course of the season – and Salmon Kalou’s 16 goals for Lille through the Ligue 1 season bodes very well for the service that either Dider Dogba or Wilfred Bony will received through the middle. Drogba is playing at what’s likely to be his last World Cup and is not the player of old, but still notched eight times in 23 league games for Galatasray and shares similar qualities with Bony, who had a fine season for Swansea in the Premiership and Europa League, scoring 16 league goals in 34 games.
In midfield, the Ivory Coast are able to call upon Yaya Toure, coming off his best ever season as he scored 20 goals on his way to another Premier League title along with a superb goal in the League Cup final. Cheik Tiote and Sergey Die lack his technique and talent but they are both powerful midfielders who can protect a rickety back four with Kolo Toure having only 20 league games a season under his belt for a Liverpool side that arguably lost the title on their defensive mistakes, and Sol Bamba and Dider Zokora arguably don’t match up to him on quality terms.
However Stuttgart’s Arthur Boka and Toulouse’s Serge Aurier provide pace and delivery either side of the centrebacks– with Constant Djakpa as competition for that spot as well to give the whole XI – even with the worryingly clumsy at times Boubcar Barry in goal – a balanced look and a fighting chance