Buzzing on Yahoo Sports:

Soccer-World-Penpix of Ivory Coast's squad for World Cup finals

Reuters

By Mark Gleeson

June 5 (Reuters) - Ivory Coast's squad for the World Cup finals comprises the following 23 players:

Goalkeepers:

Boubacar Barry (Lokeren) Age 34; 75 caps. Played at the last two World Cups in Germany and South Africa for the Ivorians and one of the old guard likely to depart after Brazil. Has won an award in Belgium for his goalkeeping and also had a stint in France but has been something of an Achilles heel at times for the Ivorian side. Better known by his nickname "Copa".

Sayouba Mande (Stabaek) Age 20; 1 cap. Handed an international debut in March in friendly in Belgium. Product of one of the many academies in Ivory Coast continually searching for young talent. Debuted in Norwegian league in 2012 and was a regular last year.

Sylvain Gbohouo (Sewe Sport) Age 25; 1 cap. Third choice in the squad who is the only home-based player. Has won back-to-back Ivorian championships with his club. Named best goalkeeper in the Ivorian league in 2012 and seen as the long-term successor to Barry.

Defenders:

Jean Daniel Akpa Akpro (Toulouse) Age 21; 1 cap. Late choice by the Ivorians who made his debut last week in a warm-up match against Bosnia, capping a whirlwind last months which also saw him sign a new deal with his Ligue 1 club. French-born who can also be used in midfield.

Serge Aurier (Toulouse) Age 21; 7 caps. Transfer target after proving ability both at right-back or central defender in Ligue 1, and also grabbed hatful of goals. Brought up in France, where he debuted at Racing Lens before moving to Toulouse. Ivorian debut came in June in World Cup qualification.

Souleyman Bamba (Trabzonspor) Age 29; 42 caps. French-born centre back who came through the ranks at Paris St Germain but played only a single minute for their first team. Then spent six years in Scotland, followed by a spell in England and now Turkey. Has overcome recent surgery to be ready in time for the World Cup.

Arthur Boka (VfB Stuttgart) Age 31; 76 caps. Diminutive full-back began career at ASEC Abidjan's fabled academy and was among first wave of players to leave for Beveren in Belgium under tutelage of controversial Frenchman Jean-Marc Guillou. Spent few seasons at Racing Strasbourg before joining VfB Stuttgart where he helped win Bundesliga in 2007. Club contract runs out in June and is expected to leave.

Ousmane Diarrassouba (Rizespor) Age 27; 1 cap. Made his debut against Morocco in the qualifiers last year but it was still a surprise when he received a call-up to the preliminary squad but did enough in training to force a place in the squad for Brazil. Played previously in Romania with CFR Cluj.

Constant Djakpa (Eintracht Frankfurt) Age 27; 4 caps. Made return to Ivorian side in March, six years after his last appearance at 2008 African Nations Cup finals. Regular game time in Bundesliga over recent years, plus crisis of sorts on left side of the Ivorian defence, has seen his return to contention. Has also played club football in Norway and Romania.

Kolo Toure (Liverpool) Age 33; 109 caps. Player with penchant for unpredictable. Made international debut aged 19, a year after announcing arrival in teenage team that won the 1999 African Super Cup for ASEC Abidjan. Moved from Arsenal to Manchester City after dressing-room bust up with France's William Gallas and later sat out suspension for failing doping test. Now in line for third Premier League medal with Liverpool after a bargain basement move when City no longer wanted him.

Didier Zokora (Trabzonspor) Age 33; 117 caps. Ivory Coast's most-capped international who got shifted from no-nonsense role at heart of midfield to central defence at the 2010 finals by Sven-Goran Eriksson. Started in Europe with Racing Genk, where he won the Belgian title in 2002, and moved to St Etienne, Tottenham, Sevilla and has been in Turkey in 2011. Played in all six of Ivory Coast's previous World Cup finals' matches.

Midfielders:

Geoffroy Serey Die (Basel) Age 29; 6 caps. Debuted for national team at 28 in last year's World Cup qualifiers as defensive midfielder cover, after a journeyman career in Tunisia and Switzerland before summer move to Basel. Was banned for eight games in 2012 for slapping a ball boy and given a four-month ban, later lifted, by FIFA for failing to honour a contract he signed in 2008 with Egypt's Zamalek.

Ismael Diomande (St Etienne) Age 21; 1 cap. First call-up in recent months for the youthful defensive midfielder, who has had his injury problems over season. Has come through the ranks at St Etienne, who recently extended his contract to 2017. Made his international debut last week against Bosnia.

Max Gradel (St Etienne) Age 26; 23 caps. Winger went to Lewisham College in London from Paris as 17-year-old and spent four months on trial at Arsenal before signing at Leicester City and later for Leeds United. St Etienne offered him four-year deal in 2011, soon after his international debut, but this season has made just three starts.

Cheick Ismael Tiote (Newcastle United) Age 27; 39 caps. Scouted as teenager by Anderlecht but was loaned out to Dutch clubs Roda JC Kerkrade and Twente, where he won Dutch league in 2010. Forced way into starting line-up with national side just before last World Cup. Cost Newcastle 3.5 million pounds ($5.9 million)after tournament. Amassed 25 cautions in his first 50 games in opening two seasons in the Premier League.

Yaya Toure (Manchester City) Age 30; 80 caps. Powerful hard-running man mountain who has won African Footballer of the Year award for last three years. A product of ASEC Abidjan academy, which has produced more than 20 players who have gone on to to play for clubs in Europe, following in footsteps of elder brother Kolo. League winner in Greece in 2006, Spain in 2009 and 2010, and England in 2012, plus has cup winners' medals from four different countries.

Forwards:

Mathis Bolly (Fortuna Dusseldorf) Age 23; 3 caps. Oslo-born striker who debuted in June after change of allegiance, having played for Norway at junior level. Father is originally from Ivory Coast, but career started at Lillestrom before he moved to Fortuna Dusseldorf when they were promoted to Bundesliga in 2012. Bolly is renowned for speed off the mark but his goal return has not been too prolific.

Wilfried Bony (Swansea City) Age 25; 24 caps. Product of increasing number of private academies set up across west Africa to develop talent for European market. Had trials at Liverpool but made breakthrough in Europe at Slavia Prague. Made name at Vitesse Arnhem with 36 goals in 36 matches in the 2012-13 season that saw him named Dutch player of the year. Swansea paid club-record 12.0 million pounds for his services last summer and his goals have kept Swansea safe in Premier League.

Didier Drogba (Galatasaray) Age 36; 100 caps. Talismanic presence who is no longer guaranteed berth in starting line-up. Grew up in France after being sent to live with his footballing uncle Michel Goba. Crowned his club career, which includes four FA Cup successes with Chelsea, with the penalty shootout winner in the Champions League final in 2012. A two-times African Footballer of the Year but after seven tournament appearances, yet to win honours at national team level. All-time top scorer with 61 goals.

Gervinho (Roma) Age 26; 51 caps. Heads to World Cup after his best ever season at Roma, vastly improved from his inconsistent days at Arsenal. Portuguese-style nickname comes from first name Gervais, the rest of his name is Yao Kouassi. Moved to Beveren in Belgium in 2005 followed by stints at Le Mans and Lille, who sold him to Arsenal.

Salomon Kalou (Lille) Age 28; 65 caps. Continues to score goals at club level, past double figures this season in Ligue 1, where he moved after six seasons at Chelsea. In 2006 he tried to play for Netherlands when he was on books of Feyenoord and made legal bid for citizenship, encouraged by Dutch coach Marco van Basten, but was stymied by country's strict laws. Ivorians disowned him at the time only to hand him debut nine months later. Elder brother, Bonaventure, is former Ivorian captain.

Giovanni Sio (FC Basle) Age 25; 7 caps. French-born, Swiss-based striker who debuted for the Ivorian during their qualifying campaign and also played in the Champions League for his club in the last year. His nomadic career has also seen him play at Real Sociedad and Augsburg and Wolfsburg in the Bundesliga.

Didier Ya Konan (Hannover 96) Age 29; 19 caps. Battled back from injury to make squad but has only one Bundesliga goal this season. Following trials with Charlton Athletic, he signed for Rosenborg Trondheim in Norway where he won league honours in 2009 before moving to Germany. Squad member at African Nations Cup finals in South Africa last year. ($1 = xxx British Pounds) (Editing by Mike Collett and Martyn Herman)

Sign up for Yahoo Fantasy Football
View Comments (0)