Didier Drogba has welcomed the appointment of Sven-Goran Eriksson as Côte d'Ivoire coach, and believes the arrival of the Swede has come at the right time for the African side. The 62-year-old was handed the task of leading the Elephants to the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ earlier this week, following the departure of Vahid Halilhodzic in the wake of a disappointing CAF Africa Cup of Nations campaign.
Côte d'Ivoire are in arguably the toughest pool, having been drawn in Group G alongside Brazil, Portugal and Korea DPR. But Drogba has no doubt that Eriksson can help his team make an impact when the tournament kicks off in June.
"There is no doubt Sven will succeed," he said. "This is someone who knows the game inside out. I have every belief in his ability to take us far and even exceed the targets set for him by the (Ivorian) Football Federation (FIF). With the little I saw of him while he was in England, and what I have heard, read and watched, I think Sven has come at the right time."
There is no doubt Sven will succeed. This is someone who knows the game inside out. I have every belief in his ability to exceed the targets set for him.
The Chelsea forward believes his international team-mates will now be at ease after news of the new coach's appointment. He continued on Football365.co.za: "This is like a wish come true for me and most of my colleagues.
"For weeks and months we have been pondering over going to the World Cup without a coach, but what we feared most has taken a different twist. Now I don't have to wake up every morning and think about the future of my team without a coach. Surely all things will work in line for us with Eriksson in charge."
Drogba is confident that Eriksson, who has also coached Lazio, Manchester City and more recently Mexico, will have no problems dealing with the high profiles in the Côte d'Ivoire ranks considering his past experiences.
"As a seasoned coach, he definitely knows how to pull in those surprises when least expected," he said. "We have a solid team and that alone solves half of his problem. The only problem he will face maybe will be the selection of a winning XI out of a team full of talents."
We are going to South Africa to win big. It is the general feeling when you talk to the boys in our team.
Four years ago in Germany, the Ivorians failed to progress beyond the group stage, although they were again in a difficult pool that included Argentina, the Netherlands and Serbia and Montenegro. But Drogba thinks this time around they can excel, especially under the guidance of Eriksson.
"Our performance in Germany was not up to what we set out to achieve," said the 32-year-old. "We have to improve and play much better if we want the other teams to take us seriously. This is not a tournament you can go and play just anyhow.
"It has to be better this time round and I hope Sven provides us with that spirit and direction. We are going to South Africa to win big. This is not something I am saying alone. It is the general feeling when you talk to the other boys in our team."