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Ivory Coast Sets Sights on Building a New Generation of Future Football Champions

The era of Ivory Coast’s golden generation marked the start of great achievements but soon after, saw the beginning of football decline for the West African nation.

After winning the elusive Africa Cup of Nations in 2015 in a dramatic penalty shootout win over Ghana, the team comprised of the likes of Yaya Toure, Kolo Toure, Wilfried Bony, Gervinho, Salomon Kalou, among other notable stars, had set a pace for The Elephants who had become a force to reckon with.

The same feat would not resurface in the 2017 AFCON Games. Ivory Coast had diminished in a short period of time, leaving many to ponder on the future prominence of the country in Africa and the world.

In addition, crucial players of its 2015 winning team called it quits on international football. Those who remained had little impact to help Ivory Coast past the group stages and soon after, also retired from national duty.

However, with the emergence of Wilfried Zaha who changed allegiance to play for The Elephants after turning down several attempts from England with whom he featured for twice, there was a glimmer of hope.

But Zaha was only one man with outstanding qualities Ivory Coast needed to rebuild its football stature.

But with the arrival of new manager, Marc Wilmots, Ivory Coast is on the brink of setting up a squad that could carry on the trend left by the golden generation.

The Belgian can be credited for his visionary attempts at securing the international services of Ivorian young talents whose skills would have benefited elsewhere.

21-year-old Manchester City academy graduate Seko Fofana, who had loan spells at Fulham and Bastia before signing for Udinese and 20-year-old Lyon striker, Maxwel Cornet committed their future to Ivory Coast.

This did not only raise hopes for Ivory Coast, it also opened doors for others to consider a return to their African roots.

Soon after the French U-21 Stars switched, Wilmots just recently secured the additional services of two more French junior internationals to commit to playing for them at senior level – 21-year-old defender Jean-Philippe Gbamin who plays in Germany for Mainz and Chelsea’s 20-year-old Jeremie Boga, on loan at Spanish side Granada.

It not only boasts the squad; it also signifies an important breed of young talent who will carry the nation in many more football years to come.

It could also encourage other upcoming stars, born or grown in Europe to consider playing with their African contemporaries on the international stage.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]”These new players can only help strengthen the squad under Marc Wilmots,”[/perfectpullquote]

Ivorian Football Federation (FIF) boss Augustin Sidy Diallo said.

“They will help build a competitive Ivorian squad for years to come.”

All recent recruits played at junior level for France but FIFA regulations allow them to change allegiance as they are dual nationals and have not played a senior competitive international game for the team.

Ivory Coast has a scheduled friendly with the Netherlands in June and Wilmots may likely debut all four players in the international game.




Featured photo: Defender Jean-Philipe and Chelsea’s on-loan Jeremie Boga have played for France at junior levels but have chosen to play for Ivory Coast the country of their birth. (Getty Images)

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