By Mark Gleeson
SAO PAULO, June 9 (Reuters) - Pacey attacker Gervinho has promised to reign in some of his impulsive individual flair for the good of the team as the Ivory Coast set sights on advancing past the opening round at the World Cup for the first time.
The imaginative style of the left-sided winger has been an integral part of the Ivorian attack over the last few years but an instinctive approach has also been exasperating at times for team mates and fans alike.
"While it is true that at times the individual can make the difference, the fans can rest assured that I will contribute to the team first in each game we play," he told reporters at the team base in Aguas de Lindoia, some 150km from Sao Paulo.
"In this team the objectives of the Elephants are top priority. To play by myself would be meaningless and unproductive."
Cameroon are the outsiders in Group A alongside Brazil, Croatia and Mexico but at their best are capable of pressing for second spot.
Gervinho goes into the tournament after a strong club season with Serie A runners-up AS Roma, restoring a reputation damaged when he was playing at Arsenal.
"I can call it a very good season because we achieved our goal of a Champions League place. Everyone was very pleased with the team," he said.
"I already knew the coach (Rudi Garcia) and I enjoyed his confidence. Therefore I quickly integrated with the rest of the squad."
Gervinho's form continued through the World Cup preparations with the winger at the heart of the Ivory Coast's 2-1 win over El Salvador in their last warm-up match in the U.S. before travelling on to Brazil. He scored the first goal and set up the second for captain Didier Drogba.
"It was good preparation," he said. "We took it very seriously and the coaching staff had the right formula to get the best of out the players, who had varying levels of fitness. We are in Brazil in good physical shape and a healthy state of mind.
"I'm not going to make any predictions but each of us is prepared and fully aware of what is expected. That is to say, to get through the first round."
(Editing by Mitch Phillips; email@example.com; +5521985471451; Reuters Messaging: firstname.lastname@example.org; To sign up for our Global Sports Forum chatroom, click on https://forms.thomsonreuters.com/global_sports_forum)
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- Ivory Coast