Sven-Goran Eriksson has spoken of his excitement after being appointed as coach of the Côte d'Ivoire for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa.

The former England and Manchester City manager succeeds Vahid Halilhodzic, who left after a disappointing CAF African Cup of Nations campaign. Eriksson believes that with the calibre of the players available to him Côte d'Ivoire can make a real impact in the finals in South Africa this summer.

In his first interview since being appointed to the job, Eriksson said: "I am extremely happy and very excited. The Ivory Coast is a good football nation with a lot of good players - it couldn't be better. This will be my third World Cup and you are always happy to be there.

The only problem is that we are not together until May 22 but that is the same for most of the teams, and I am going to start travelling from tomorrow to see all the players around Europe and in the Ivory Coast too.

New Ivorian boss Eriksson

"Didier Drogba is one of the best strikers in the world and he has showed that for many years now in the Premier League," the Swede went on. "There are other great players too including Eboue at Arsenal, Salomon Kalou, Kolo Toure - and his brother Yaya at Barcelona.

"The only problem is that we are not together until May 22 but that is the same for most of the teams, and I am going to start travelling from tomorrow to see all the players around Europe and in the Ivory Coast too," the coach added. "There is a lot of hard work ahead of me but I like that - in fact I love it. I'm really looking forward to the World Cup."

Eriksson's first target of guiding the Ivorians through the group stage is not easy however - Brazil, Portugal and Korea DPR are also in Group G, already given the name 'the Group of Death'.

Expecting surprises
The Swede firmly believes though that the first FIFA World Cup in Africa will lead to some surprises being sprung by teams from the continent. He added: "We are in a difficult group and it will not be easy but I think the Ivory Coast with all their talents can get through it. That's the first target and we will have to work very hard for it.

"Brazil are one of the favourites and Portugal are one of the best teams in Europe," Eriksson said. "But there are six African countries in the World Cup, it is in Africa for the first time, and I am sure two or three will spring some big surprises and we have to make sure we are one of those that do.

"We should have lots of support and the tournament in South Africa should be very good for the whole continent and the game of football."