Team Profile: Ivory Coast

Nickname: The Elephants
Association formed: 1960
Previous Afcon Appearances: 21 (1965, 1968, 1970, 1974, 1980, 1984, 1986, 1988, 1990, 1992, 1994, 1996, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2015)
Best result: Champions (1992, 2015)
Coach: Michel Dussuyer
Leading scorers: all-time –Didier Drogba (65)
Most appearances: all-time –Didier Zokora (123)
FIFA ranking: 34 (2nd in CAF)

THE BIG QUESTION
They are the defending champions and that alone is a huge task. A period of ‘Golden Generation’ has almost ended or some people even argue it ended in the last edition of the tournament. So, can the new recruits maintain the path of glory? Can they go ahead and defend the title?

WHO ARE THEY?
The Ivory Coast national football team represents Ivory Coast in international association football and has done so since the 1960s. Until 2005, their greatest accomplishment was winning the 1992 African Cup of Nations against Ghana on penalties. Their second success came 23 years later in the 2015 edition, again beating Ghana on penalties at the Estadio de Bata in Bata, Equatorial Guinea. The team has qualified for three consecutive World Cups; however, it has never advanced beyond the group stage.

TOP THREE PLAYERS
Serey Die: The all-action midfielder leads the team from the middle after being saddled with the responsibility of team captain in the absence of the injured Gervinho. At 32, Die is a latecomer to international football, only making his debut in 2013 and winning the Nations Cup at his first try.

Salomon Kalou: One of the more experienced members of the team who at age 31 has gathered 83 caps and scored 28 goals since making his international debut in 2007. He often operates from the wings, where he utilises his pace, skill and strength to get into dangerous scoring positions to set-up himself and teammates. A top player to have in the team considering the number of titles he has won over the years.

Serge Aurier: The full-back/wing-back is constantly marauding down the right flank and has set-up countless assists for teammates. Forget his off-field problems in 2016, he is world class as evidenced by his recent ratings by being the only African to make the FIFPro World 11.

HOW THEY QUALIFIED
The Elephants unconvincingly finished top of Group I which consisted of just three teams. Worryingly, they failed to neither convince nor sparkle, winning just the solitary game against Sudan and drawing the other three.

FULL 23-MAN SQUAD AFCON

Goalkeepers: Sylvain Gbohuo (TP Mazembe), Badra Sangare (AS Tanda), Mande Sayouba (Stabaek)

Defenders: Serge Aurier (PSG), Mamadou Bagayoko (St Trond VV), Eric Bailly (Manchester United), Simon Deli (Slavia Prague), Wilfried Kanon (ADO), Lamine Kone (Sunderland), Adama Traore (Basel)

Midfielders: Victorien Angban (Grenada), Cheik Doukoure (Metz), Franck Kessie (Atalanta), Yao Serge N’guessan (AS Nancy), Geoffroy Serey Die (Basel), Jean Michael Seri (Nice)

Forwards: Wilfried Bony (Stoke City), Max Gradel (Bournemouth), Salomon Kalou (Hertha Berlin), Jonathan Kodjia (Aston Villa), Giovanni Sio (Stade Rennes), Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace), Nicolas Pepe (Angers)

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