Didier Drogba is closing in on 100 caps for Côte d'Ivoire, and the Chelsea legend scored in the first leg of the African zone FIFA World Cup™ qualifying play-off last month to set his side on the way to Brazil 2014. Papiss Cisse grabbed a late consolation, which has kept the tie alive going into the second leg in Casablanca. FIFA.com takes a look at the numbers behind two of Africa's hottest forwards.
Cisse: 28 (born 3 June 1985)
Drogba: 35 (born 11 March 1978)
Both strikers were relatively late developers in the European game, with Drogba playing for modest Le Mans in Ligue 2 before his single-season heroics with Guingamp, and then Marseille which earned him his big money move to English giants Chelsea at the age of 26. In comparison, Cisse had a prolific youth spell in his home nation before making the move to FC Metz at 20 years of age. His record in France was steady but it was a move to Germany and Freiburg which really caught the attention of the continent. His 2010/11 season, at the age of 25, saw him second in the Bundesliga goalscoring charts behind Mario Gomez. He earned his move to the English Premier League in 2012 at the same age as Drogba, 26 years old.
Cisse: 1.81 metres
Drogba: 1.88 metres
Didier Drogba strikes an imposing figure on the football pitch and one of his oldest Premier League adversaries, the now-retired Jamie Carragher, once remarked: "he's so powerful that, even if you catch him, you can't get a foot in to make the tackle. You would have to run around him and you haven't the time to do that. So he's unplayable." While Cisse is shorter than Drogba, and his frame is slighter, he certainly has power in his feet. His remarkable strike against Drogba's Chelsea in 2012 is just one example of the Newcastle forward's incredible ability to hit thunderous shots.
Cisse: v Congo DR (12 August 2009)
Drogba: v South Africa (8 September 2002)
As well as making their first Premier League starts at the same age, Cisse and Drogba both made their international debuts at the age of 24. Didier Drogba's first Côte d'Ivoire match came after his move to Guingamp in 2002, facing South Africa in a CAF Africa Cup of Nations qualifier which finished goalless. Cisse's 2009 debut was a little more successful, scoring both goals in a 2-1 friendly victory over Congo DR in Kinshasa.
Cisse: 15 in 27 appearances (0.55 goals per game)
Drogba: 62 in 97 appearances (0.64 goals per game)
Cisse followed up his goalscoring debut with a hat-trick in his second match for Senegal, an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Mauritius. Overall, the Newcastle No9's record for his country is impressive, averaging a goal every other game. Drogba's average for Côte d'Ivoire is even better though, with almost two goals every three matches after opening his international account against Cameroon in a 3-0 friendly win.
World Cup qualifying goals
Cisse: 5 in 6 appearances (0.83 goals per game)
Drogba: 18 in 18 appearances (1 goal per game)
Drogba has played a key part in guiding Côte d'Ivoire to two consecutive World Cups. He scored almost half his country's goals as they topped Group 3 of the African zone qualifying ahead of much-fancied Cameroon and Egypt. It was also his equaliser against Malawi in October 2009 that saw his country qualify for South Africa, adding to the five goals he had already scored in getting them to the top of Group E. Cisse has been prolific in Brazil 2014 qualifying, grabbing five goals in six games to better Drogba's three goals so far.
Following Cisse's move from Senegalese side AS Douanes to FC Metz, the French club loaned him out to AS Cherbourg, then coached by former Zambia coach Herve Renard in 2005 and again to Chateauroux in 2008. The Senegal No9 then made the move to the Bundesliga with Freiburg before catching the eye of Alan Pardew at Newcastle, who snapped up the prolific forward for an estimated £10m in 2012. Drogba turned professional with Le Mans in 1998 with his then-coach Yves Bertucci saying that Drogba needed four years to be able to train every day and play every week. When the Ivorian reached his physical peak, he became unstoppable, enjoying prolific single seasons with Guingamp and giants Marseille in Ligue 1 before a £24m move to Chelsea. He enjoyed an incredible eight seasons at Stamford Bridge, in which he was instrumental in the club winning three Premier League titles, four FA Cups and the UEFA Champions League. The legendary Chelsea No11 then had a short spell in China PR with Shanghai Shenhua before moving to Galatasaray in January.
Cisse: 1 win, 0 draws, 3 losses
Drogba: 3 wins, 0 draws, 1 loss
Every time these two forwards have played against one another, at least one of them has scored. Their first meeting came in May 2012 in the Premier League, towards the end of Drogba's Chelsea career. Cisse put Newcastle ahead in the first half and, after the Ivorian's introduction on the hour mark, Cisse produced the Match of the Day goal of the season in stoppage time to stun the Stamford Bridge crowd and seal a 2-0 victory. Drogba was to have his revenge on the international stage though. Cisse put Senegal 2-1 up in a 2013 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in September 2012 but, after Gervinho had levelled, Drogba slotted a penalty home to put his country ahead in a game that ended in a 4-2 win for the Ivorians. Drogba scored twice in the return leg which was awarded 2-0 to his side. The most recent encounter was last month, where both Drogba and Cisse were on the scoresheet again, but it was Les Elephants who emerged triumphant.
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