Kolo Toure believes that the Côte d'Ivoire's squad's experience of playing in Europe will help them in their quest for success at the FIFA World Cup™. Sven-Goran Eriksson's side head into the tournament as many people's most-fancied African side, although their tournament preparations have been rocked by Didier Drogba's broken arm.
Whether the Chelsea striker recovers in time to play a part is still unknown, but Manchester City defender Toure remains confident the squad's extensive playing time in the world's top leagues will stand Les Elephants in good stead, particularly as every member of the 23-man squad has competed in Europe.
"We've got a talented squad, we're well prepared and we will work very hard, but we know it's going to be tough against Brazil and Portugal especially," he said. "Of course I and my team-mates have played against many of their players in European club competitions so we know what to expect. North Korea are much less familiar. If we can get through to the second round who knows?"
We've got a talented squad, we're well prepared and we will work very hard.
As well as plying his trade for the Elephants in South Africa, Toure is using the tournament to raise awareness of the United Against Malaria campaign that is taking a heightened presence during the tournament in South Africa. The 29-year-old has contracted the illness on a number of occasions during his life, most recently during pre-season with Arsenal in 2008.
"I hope people will understand that the World Cup is about more than just football," said Toure. "For one month the world's attention will be on the continent of Africa and we must use this time to highlight some of the issues that Africa faces, like malaria.
"There are a number of other people like myself helping to raise awareness of malaria, such as Landon Donovan, Patrick Vieira and Yvonne Chaka Chaka. The United Against Malaria campaign is bringing together a wide range of partners who are working to reduce deaths from malaria dramatically by 2015."