Nigeria, CIV Will Lead Africa To 2014 World Cup

•Ivorian coach, Lamouchi

•Ivorian coach, Lamouchi

•Ivorian coach, Lamouchi
•Ivorian coach, Lamouchi

Ivory Coast coach Sabri Lamouchi spoke with during the weekend after his side crushed Gambia 3-0 in the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifier. The Frenchman of Tunisian decent admits he is an inexperienced coach but eager to learn while at his post, and reiterates the reasons for dropping his captain Didier Drogba and how he feels about the Super Eagles of Nigeria

Working in Ivory Coast is your first job as a coach, how much have you learnt so far with the team?

I have learnt a lot, however, no matter the years you put in this job, you keep learning from each team, each player and each match, and even from the behaviour of officials.

A number of local editorialists say you don’t have the experience to manage a star-studded team like the Elephants.

When I took up this job I told everybody I was new to coaching, and that it was my first experience. I was humble enough to tell them that I was here to learn and I believe the team and I could share our experiences and grow together.

But the fans and some officials seem to be impatient because the Ivorian golden generation of footballers is growing old.

That is true but you cannot beat your chest and go out there to win trophies. It takes not only hard work but time and patience. Even teams managed by experienced coaches don’t win tournaments every time.

Did you ever imagine that a team like Nigeria would knock your side out of the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations while preparing for the tournament?

No. Not really, but in this kind of big tournament you can never tell. I was however surprised how they played against us. They were superb, had a stronger fighting spirit and pace than us. And after their win over us I tipped them to lift the trophy.

But look, to tell you how funny football is, Kenya almost defeated the Super Eagles days ago in the 2014 World Cup qualifier at home. If Nigeria had lost would you say Stephen Keshi is no longer a good coach?

Didier Drogba remains an indispensable forward for Galatasaray but to you he’s getting worn out?

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I didn’t say so, the media misinterpreted me. Drogba remains a great player for our team. What I meant was he had lost some of his sparkling qualities, which I feel and I know he can recover if he works harder in Turkey.

But he has vowed to help Ivory Coast qualify for the 2014 World Cup.

Yes, that vow is still in force. Drogba will definitely return.

When, in the next match day in June?

I cannot confirm to you, but we shall see.

After your 3-0 victory against Gambia on Saturday, would you say your team are gradually reconciling with local supporters?

Winning a match is not enough to appease the fans. They want silverware. They want to celebrate. They know they have great players and want them to bring home a trophy, a title.

Ivory Coast are still the continent’s number one team according to FIFA ranking, does that comfort you in your work?

No! You don’t go nowhere with such rankings if you don’t play to win and lift trophies. The most important thing is winning tournaments and not winning top spots in rankings.

What are your predictions for the five African teams to make it to the Brazil 2014?

Of course my team Ivory Coast, one or two from North Africa, Nigeria and probably Zambia.

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