Côte d'Ivoire coach Sven-Goran Eriksson is eagerly anticipating his side's FIFA World Cup™ opener against Portugal and insists "everything is possible" if the Elephants can negotiate a tough-looking Group G.
The Elephants have been drawn in arguably the most difficult pool of all with matches against Brazil and Korea DPR to follow after Portugal. It will be a tough task to progress to the knockout rounds but Eriksson remains confident.
Speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live on Sunday, the Swede he said: "First of all we have to concentrate as hard as we can on trying to go through the group stage. If we can do that everything is possible.
"It's my third World Cup and I'm really looking forward to it. I have a good team going into the World Cup. Big challenge, I look forward to it. We are in the most difficult group of all. We have a lot of respect for all the teams, but I think the others have a lot of respect for us as well. We have a good team and a lot of good football players."
However, their task has been made all the more difficult by the injury to captain Didier Drogba. The Chelsea striker underwent an operation yesterday on his broken arm and, although the federation are not ruling him out of the FIFA World Cup, he is likely to miss at least the Portugal match.
Eriksson admits he is unsure if he will be able to count on his leading forward. "We still hope but he is in a hospital in Switzerland so I can't say yes or no but we hope, that's for sure," said the former England boss. "I have to wait to hear from the specialist."
Despite the uncertainty over Drogba, Eriksson is still hopeful his side can set up a potential semi-final with England. He believes his old team, whom he led to the 2002 and 2006 quarter-finals, have the potential to go further. "If they [England] don't have more bad luck with injuries they have a chance to go the whole way and I would be happy for them if that happens. I think they have a good chance. I hope Rooney will stay fit. I think he is extremely important for England as Drogba is for us."
When asked would England reach the Final, he replied: "Yeah, why not, or the semi-final against the Ivory Coast." But he added that Rio Ferdinand's injury represented a setback for England. "Rio Ferdinand is one of the best defenders in the world. Bad news for England and bad news for the World Cup. But England have a lot of good footballers, especially if you talk about midfielders and defenders."