Côte d'Ivoire coach Sven-Goran Eriksson is relishing the chance to face Portugal in the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ this summer but insists there will be no feeling of revenge as he prepares to meet his old foes.
Portugal defeated Eriksson's England on penalties in the quarter-finals at Euro 2004 before doing the same two years later in a controversial FIFA World Cup contest which saw Wayne Rooney sent off.
Côte d'Ivoire kick off their World Cup campaign against Portugal before facing Brazil and North Korea and, while Eriksson recognises the importance of their first match, he claims he will not be thinking of his England days.
"Brazil is favourite to win the group and second should be us or Portugal or North Korea on paper," Eriksson said. "But that's on paper. "But the first match for us is really important. There's no sense of revenge, this time it can't be penalty shoot-outs that's for sure. I'm looking forward to that but first we have to start the preparation and it's still far away. But it's important."
Despite being drawn in the so-called 'group of death' Eriksson insists a quarter-final spot is their target and is not even considering failing to progress from their pool. "To go through would be a success from a group like that,' he said. "If we can reach the quarter-final I think everyone should be thinking it's a great success from an African team, for the Ivory Coast. That's the first target.
"I don't know if finishing third would be a failure. But I haven't thought about that. We have to work, to believe we can pass the group and go further of course," he continued.
Eriksson left his job as England coach at the end of the 2006 FIFA World Cup after the Football Association decided not to renew his contract but he still looks back with fondness at his time in charge. And the 62-year-old is confident this could be the year his former charges live up to their billing as one of the tournament favourites.
"England have good chances. Absolutely," said Eriksson. "They have a very experienced team. Most of the players have been in big tournaments like the World Cup before. You have Wayne Rooney who is coming from a great, great season and he is an extremely important player. So I think they have a great chance of reaching the semi-final and why not the final?
"We had a good chance in the last World Cup and I think we should have done better than we did but they have maybe an even better chance because players like (Rio) Ferdinand, (Steven) Gerrard, (Frank) Lampard, Rooney, Ashley Cole...they have more experience now, (they are) more mature than they were four years ago," he said.
"I was extremely happy for five-and-a-half years to have that job and very very proud. Regrets? Losing the last World Cup on penalty shoot-outs, but that's history. It was a great time, fantastic."