Skipper Didier Drogba was in a realistic mood after Côte d'Ivoire came up short in their improbable goal pursuit against Korea DPR in their bid for a last 16 spot at the FIFA World Cup™ here on Friday.
Setting out needing victory by nine goals to nudge Portugal from the knock-out round, Côte d'Ivoire could only muster a 3-0 win over the already-eliminated Korea DPR in their Group G match at the Mbombela Stadium.
For the second straight FIFA World Cup, Côte d'Ivoire bumped into another hot group and are on their way out again at the first round stage. Four years ago in Germany it was Argentina, Netherlands and Serbia and Montenegro and this time they were placed in another 'Group of Death' along with Brazil and Portugal.
"We are disappointed, but not too disappointed in a group like this with teams like Brazil and Portugal," the Chelsea superstar striker said. "We have a good team and good players but they are better than us really. Maybe we can be disappointed at not getting second spot this time, but overall we can't be too disappointed.
"If we were in a better group we would have gone through. We are unlucky to be in tough groups at both our World Cups, but to even play at the World Cup twice in a row is fantastic. To play Brazil and Portugal is like a dream for a country like ours. We were lucky to play against those nations."
The Ivorians drew 0-0 with Portugal in their opening game and lost 3-1 to Brazil. Drogba said if his team had a bit more composure in front of goal they may have scored more goals against Korea DPR, but it would have been all academic.
"We played good and we had a lot chances," he said. "If we were a little calmer and took the right decisions we could have scored more. Our World Cup is over but we can be proud of what we did against Brazil and Portugal. It was difficult for us to go through, but at least the respective FIFA rankings was proved right today."
Sven-Goran Eriksson, who steps down after his short stint as the team's coach at the FIFA World Cup, said the future was bright for Côte d'Ivoire. "The futue for the Ivory Coast is great, it can't be the opposite," the former England manager said.
"There are some very good younger players coming through from behind and with the next African Nations Cup and World Cup a lot of these players can play again. The future is bright. The starting eleven against Portugal was brilliant and they were today as well."
Eriksson said he had not done anything about his next coaching job, with English reports linking him with the Fulham job. "There hasn't been a discussion about my future while I was at the World Cup with the Ivory Coast," he said. "I stay for a few more days in South Africa and then take a holiday and then we'll see."