As the start of the Africa Cup of Nations qualifying draws near, the Ivory Coast’s National Soccer Federation is once again in the spotlight. Just weeks after announcing former team member Francois Zahoui as their new coach, the Cote D’Ivoire’s best-known player, Didier Drogba, has announced that he will step away from international competition.
According to Goal.com, the 32-year-old striker informed Zahoui that he was physically tired and wanted to withdraw from the Cote D’Ivorie squad. The English Premier League’s leading scorer has had little time to rest as of late. After a grueling 2009-2010 Chelsea schedule, which included numerous domestic cup games as well as matches for the Champions League, Drogba broke his arm during a World Cup warm-up match. Despite his broken arm, Drogba was able to play for the Ivory Coast during the World Cup. Despite Drogba’s brave efforts, the Ivory Coast failed to advance to the second round of play, finishing behind Brazil and Portugal in their group.
Drogba began his youth playing career in France, where he also made his professional debut. Before joining Chelsea in 2004, Drogba played for Le Mans, Guingamp, and Marseille, A prolific scorer, Drogba has become an unstoppable scoring threat for the defending English Premier League Champions. Drogba began the current 2010-2011 Premier League campaign by producing four goals in just three matches. Drogba’s decision to not play for his country will certainly delight Chelsea fans who have already been hampered with injuries. John Terry and Frank Lampard each suffered injuries during the third week of the Premier League campaign. Chelsea’s next match is scheduled for Sept. 11 at West Ham United’s Upton Park.
The Ivory Coast will play a qualifying match for the Africa Cup of Nations against Rwanda on Saturday, Sept. 4, in Abidjan. The Ivory Coast is playing in qualifying group H with Rwanda, Benin, and Burundi. With Drogba no longer on the roster, the Ivory Coast will rely on other internationally successful players, such as Emmanuel Eboue and Drogba’s Chelsea teammate, Kalou.
With a squad consisting of numerous players who play throughout top leagues in Europe, the Ivory Coast should easily advance through group H, even without their superstar. Despite Drogba currently withdrawing from the National Team, many believe that the phenomenal striker may eventually play for the Ivory Coast again in the future.
Kingsley Kobo, “Didier Quits Cote D’Ivoire National Team” Goal.com
Africa Cup of Nations