By Kojo Owusu-Okyere
Cote d’Ivoire coach Sabri Lamouchi has reiterated that the qualification for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil remains the dream of all Ivorians. The Elephants are seeking to make their third successive appearance at the biggest stage in world football after 2006 (Germany) and 2010 (South Africa), and Lamouchi says the desire to reach to Brazil is a national interest.
The Ivorians face the Teranga Lions of Senegal in the first leg of the playoff on Saturday, October 12 in Abidjan and the Frenchman is hoping the support of the fans will be keen for them in order to achieve a convincing result against their old foes.
“I dream of the World Cup and it is the dream of all Ivorians. The qualification for the World Cup is of public interest. My message to the fans is they should not worry since the players are committed,” Lamouchi was quoted by the official website of the Ivorian Football Federation.
“It is not important if Lamouchi qualifies for his first World Cup as a coach. The most important is Cote d’Ivoire qualifying to a third successive World Cup. The players are aware of the expectations and hope to beat Senegal accordingly.”
There is so much tension engulfing the game after a previous meeting between the two sides in a 2013 Orange Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in Dakar ended abruptly due to crowd violence. The Ivorians were subsequently declared winners of the tie and went through to the final tournament in South Africa where they were ousted at the quarter-finals by eventual winners, Nigeria.
“Our victory over Senegal in 2012 to qualify for CAN 2013 was not the result of individuals. This victory was well-deserved.”
For Lamouchi, the best outcome remains a win in this weekend’s encounter to make the second leg a mere formality.
“The ideal scenario will be victory and not conceding. It will be a tight and complicated game. The elements to make the difference will be concentration and determination.”
Veteran defender Kolo Toure and midfielder Max Gradel have been recalled into the Elephants squad for the crucial game after being sidelined for the previous qualifier against Morocco last month.
“It is my responsibility to invite players who can bring something to the team,” he concluded.
The second leg will take place on November 16 in Casablanca.