Togetherness, the need of the hour

The tag of ‘golden generation’ follows the current crop of exceptionally skilled footballers in the Ivory Coast national team with much hesitation. The likes of Kolo Toure, Yaya Toure, Salomon Kalou, Wilfried Bony and Didier Drogba have scaled tremendous heights in club football, but when they have gotten together to represent the country, the list of highlights is not as exhaustive.

The ‘Elephants’ last won the Africa Cup of Nations in 1992, and two runner-up finishes (2006 and 2012) have been its best result since.

Ivory Coast’s record at the World Cup does not inspire confidence either; it bowed out in the group stage in its two previous appearances (2006 and 2010). Argentina and Netherlands relegated the Drogba-led side in 2006 to third-spot, while two other powerhouses, Brazil and Portugal, proved too good in the 2010 edition.

This time, the nation faces a far less intimidating task, with Colombia, Greece and Japan in its group. A historic second-round spot looks inevitable, and from thereon, the nation will look to its stars to break new ground.

The team’s detractors, however, paint a bleak picture. Togo international and Tottenham forward Emmanuel Adebayor recently had this to say: “I never trust them. They are the country that will always let you down... There’s no togetherness. Everyone wants to be the hero.”

The Sabri Lamouchi-managed side had also suffered a few minor setbacks in the build-up to the World Cup. It had lost a friendly to Bosnia-Herzegovina, and also had to deal with niggles to the Toure brothers — Kolo (malaria) and Yaya (unspecified muscle injury).

Lille winger Salomon Kalou best summed up the big picture, saying: “It is important to achieve something together. It is so important for our generation, and also the country.”