Salomon Kalou has welcomed his first FIFA World Cup™ experience against Brazil and Portugal but he wants Côte d'Ivoire to have some overdue luck with the draw if they qualify for the next tournament in Brazil.
The young Chelsea forward scored the final goal in his side's 3-0 win over Korea DPR at the Mbombela Stadium on Friday, which was not enough to get Côte d'Ivoire through to the last 16 of the tournament.
The African side, who faced Brazil and Portugal in the so-called 'Group of Death', yet again found it impossible to qualify for the knockout round, as they had done four years ago in Germany when they were drawn with Argentina, the Netherlands and Serbia/Montenegro.
"It has been a good experience for us to play Portugal and Brazil and hopefully at the next World Cup we will have an easier draw and we make it to the next round," said Kalou. "It was a difficult group. You can see that Brazil got seven points, Portugal five and Ivory Coast four, so it was a hard group to play in. I hope for an easier group next time because we need a little push to get to the next level."
Kalou, who has scored 12 goals in 36 internationals, said if he leaves South Africa with any regrets it would be Les Elephants' performance in the 3-1 loss to Brazil in their second match of the tournament.
"If I was to have a regret it would be against Brazil because I believe that we didn't play at our level, we didn't play our game, and maybe we were a little intimidated to play Brazil," he said. "When you play against a team like that you have to play at your best.
"We should have tried to win the game rather than draw with Portugal. We started well and in the end we were pushing and creating chances but we didn't put the ball in the back of the net. To play against a team like that you have to take every chance that you have otherwise you can't make it."
Team skipper Didier Drogba, who has 42 goals in 72 internationals, had a word of praise for former England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson after his short stint as in charge. "Sven only had a chance to work with us for a month or so and to show what we did today (Friday)," the Chelsea striker said. "Vahid Halilhodzic was our former coach and he had already done a lot of good work with us and that made it a little bit easier for Sven to come in and manage the team so well.
"It won't be easy for Sven to stay with us. I think if you asked him about staying he would say yes because he found it a very good team to work with and a good spirit in the squad. Really, he's a leader, so we are very happy with him and I don't know what his future is going to be, but it was nice to work with him."