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Who will Lead The Elephants in Drogba's Absence?

CAN 2015 debate: Without Drogba, can Bony-led Ivory Coast triumph?

January 15, 2015 By Mutembei Kevin
Few players who have been bestowed the title of ‘legend’ really merit it, but Didier Drogba is one who truly does. Will Ivory Coast cope in his absence?

Drogba’s International Career Summary

Like Samuel Eto’o for Cameroon, Chelsea legend Didier Drogba is Ivory Coast’s all time leading goal-scorer and former captain. Drogba was however a bit of a late bloomer, and had to wait till he was 24 to make his international debut for his country on 8th September 2002.

Drogba almost personally steered The Elephants through their first ever World Cup qualification – the 2006 edition that was held in Germany. He also captained the team to their second ever AFCON final in the same year although they lost to the Pharaohs of Egypt. Overall, the fiery, 6 ft. 2 in. forward has netted an outstanding 65 times in 104 games for Les Éléphants.

Akin to the likes of Eto’o and Song, the big man’s temperament is a measured one, leading his country’s squad through big matches without sowing disharmony in the dressing room. His August 2014 announcement of retirement from international football was the first and final time he removed himself from involvement with The Elephants. This is unlike Eto’o who has seemingly retired countless times only for his countrymen to beg him to return.

Ivory Coast’s Post Drogba

Some players represent so much to their teams that they are effectively irreplaceable, and the Chelsea man is one of them. His leadership ability and his tenacity in front of goal, among other attributes, are almost impossible to match. However, no one can play forever, otherwise we’d still be able to see the likes of Pele and Maradona on our pitches.

Yaya Toure is the natural replacement captain for Ivory Coast, something that was easy to see even before head coach Hervé Renard went through the formality of making the announcement. Luckily for Les Elephants, there are a number of good forwards in the team to try and fill the gaping hole left in their striking department.

Salomon Kalou, Gervinho, and Wilfried Bony will all be vying for a spot upfront. Kalou and the new Manchester City man are especially suited to the role as they can all play down the middle. Fleet-footed winger Gervinho, however, has also displayed his goal-scoring prowess in this AFCON year’s qualifiers and can play in a two or three-striker system.

The trio’s deputies include Lacina Traore, Tallo Junior, and Seydou Doumbia.

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