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Ivory Coast Seeking To Break New W/Cup Ground S/Africa 2010



When Ivory Coast crashed out of the 2006 World Cup at the earliest possible stage, coach Henri Michel had but one lament – ‘the only thing we lack is experience’.

Placed in a daunting group with Argentina, Holland and Serbia & Montenegro, the Ivorians played exciting football while holding their own but their rawness cost them dearly.

In every game in Germany, the Elephants trailed 2-0 before half-time – and ended up losing 2-1 twice, but, more impressively, winning one.

The 3-2 defeat of Serbia & Montenegro in Munich was memorable, courageous and, surprisingly, the first time since 1982 that a World Cup side trailing by two goals had won.

Having followed the Ivorians and their orange-clad fans across Germany one remembered thinking, upon their exit, how vital it was that arguably Africa’s best side at the finals returned in 2010.

The likes of Didier Drogba, Kolo Toure and Emmanuel Eboue now have that priceless experience and, crucially, roughly two-thirds of the squad that were in Germany will be in South Africa.

“With [our 2006] experience, it will be possible to do much better,” says Yaya Toure, an Olympiakos player in 2006 but now a finely-settled cog for all-conquering Barcelona.

“Perhaps we can make the quarter-finals, and then semi-finals – this is something we can achieve,” added Kolo’s younger brother.

The Elephants are packing their trunks for South Africa following the 1-1 draw in Malawi in the last qualifier, with captain and top scorer Drogba fittingly grabbing the decisive goal (his fifth of the campaign).

Yet after winning their opening four Group E matches, beating Malawi, Guinea and main rivals Burkina Faso home and away, qualification had never been in doubt.

Especially since Valil Halilhodzic’s side has stayed unbeaten in 15 matches since losing in Japan in May 2008, the very month the Bosnian coach took charge.

And though three of the continent’s six places at the World Cup are still undecided, many are tipping the Elephants to find fruitful grazing on African soil next year.

“To make it to the final will not be easy because there are great teams like Brazil and Germany who have won the World Cup for many years,” says Drogba, the team’s figurehead.

“But my team-mates and I want to make history and change the way the world sees African football. I hope we’ll be the team that is going to go to the final and win the competition.”

Even on home turf, this is a major ask for any African nation but one senses the Elephants will be ready for all-comers, tricky group or not, in South Africa.

For these challengers have a quality few of their continental rivals possess: strength in nearly every position.

Up front, Drogba and Salomon Kalou lead the line, with Boubacar Sanogo (St Etienne), Sekou Cisse (Feyenoord) waiting in the wings – as must Lille’s emerging 22-year-old playmaker Gervinho.

Midfield finds Seville’s Didier Zokora, magnificent in Germany, holding alongside Yaya Toure with tiny Marseille man Bakary Kone who also shone in 2006, Abdul-Kader Keita (Galatasaray) and Romaric (Seville) all hoping for first pick on the flanks.

In defence, Kolo Toure’s regular partner Abdoulaye Meite has recently been replaced by Olympic captain Sol Bamba, with Arthur ‘Thunder Thighs’ Boka, who won the 2007 Bundesliga title with Stuttgart, and Arsenal’s Eboue out wide.

All looking good so far but as any Ivorian will tell you, the rampaging Elephants do have an Achilles heel – their goalkeeper.

Unlike most of his colleagues, who are largely based in England, Spain and France, Boubacar Barry plays for lowly Lokeren in Belgium.

As such, he is the source of endless concern but his record this qualifying campaign is largely faultless, with just 6 goals conceded in eleven games.

Barry’s position will come under intense scrutiny during January’s Nations Cup in Angola, which the Elephants will be expected to win by their boisterous army of fans.

And as they charge onward, it must not be forgotten that an invisible force is driving the West Africans.

Namely the memory of the fans who died after trying to watch the players’ qualifier against Malawi’s Flames in a tragically-oversold Felix Houphouet-Boigny stadium.

“We have to go as far as we can in this competition for all the people who died,” said Yaya Toure after the March tragedy in Abidjan.

They’ve been as good as their word so far.

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Go Round FC Searches For Big Stars 



Go Round FC’s coach, Ngozi Elechi has revealed that the club is in search of its next big star in the mould of Daniel Gotom and James Eronje.
Both players were top performers for the club in the first round of the just concluded Nigeria National League season before they travelled to Europe.
Elechi said while in training with the team that the coaches are on the lookout for players in their mould that will take the league by storm, though previously inexperienced in league football.
“James and Gotom had not played in the league before they joined Go Round FC last season. They came from academies and did so well for us.
“Those are the kinds of players we hope to discover in our open screening and that is why we decided to embark on this and leave the more experienced players out of the equation for now,” Elechi said.
Tens of players have been camped at the Krisdera Hotel Stadium for over a week, sweating it out and trying to impress the coaches.
“We are still training. We have our eyes on them and expect a lot more to join up within the coming days,” Elechi added.
“When we are done with this, we will now ask the old players of the team to return ahead of the start of the season, as well as those we scouted in the course of the last football season.”

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Gure Community Youths Advice On Sporting Activities



The youths of Gure  Community in Khana Local Government Area, in Rivers State has been advised  to take the game of football as a career  because it is now a lucrative business that has the capacity to turn around their fortunes.
Deputy Rector, Academics of Captain Elechi Amadi Polytechnic Rumuola Port Harcourt Dr Moses Neebee, gave the advice during a novelty football match in honour of Late Chief Benson Deezua, at the weekend at the Community School field, Gure.
He further expressed joy that youths in the community have taken the right part by involving themselves in sporting activities.
“ Well,  our youth are on the right part because today sports is a lucrative business mostly football. I am also happy the honour given to late Chief  Deezua by the community youth” Dr. Neebee said.
According to him, the community would  hardly forget the late Chief  following his contributions in bringing peace and unity.
“Late Chief played major role during the cult crises and stood by the community.
“ First I want to thank God because late chief Benson Deezua was a man we all should looked upon not only because I am his nephew but the role he play in the Community.
“ Infact, his life and time will hardly be forgotten by Gure Community because during crises in the community he stood by the community.
“ He lived a life  worthy of emulation.
“ I pray to God to give us the strength that we need to start from where he stopped” he stated. .

By: Kiadum Edookor

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Why We Dominate Sports In Nigeria – Delta Commissioner



The Delta State Commissioner for Information, Hon. Charles Aniagwu, has said that the State Governor Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa places priority on Sports development and formulates policies that will develop sports in the State.
He stated that the Government closed all schools in the State to discover talents and give equal academic opportunity to those who are participating at the ongoing National Sports Festival (NSF)  and those that are not doing sports.
Hon. Aniagwu, made the assertion in a press briefing at the NSF holding in Asaba, on Monday, saying that Sports is an indigene of Delta State.
According to him, the reason why Delta State is dominating sports in Nigeria was because the government does not give any private school license to operate if the school  does not  have field for sporting activities.
“First when we came in, the governor made it clear that no license should be issued to private school that do not have field where students can do  sporting activities.
“As I speak to you, all the secondary schools in Delta State have been closed to accommodate activities for this event because we have a good number of secondary students that are participating
After the Sports Festival, they will continue academic activities and we do not want a situation where some will be  learning and some are doing sports, we want to give every student equal opportunity of academic activities, but I know they will  to do their exams before Christmas” Hon. Aniagwu said.

By: Tonye Orabere In Asaba

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