WILL AFRICA COME CLOSE?

Ivory Coast have appeared in the World Cup finals three times in the history, but they have not come close to winning the trophy. Despite possessing a star-studded squad that includes the likes of Didier Drogba and Yaya Touré, they have not even won the African cup of nations.

Drogba, who is expected to make one final appearance in a major tournament, is the perfect man to lead Ivory Coast to success in the upcoming World Cup 2014 according to Ivory Coast manager Sabri Lamouchi. Even though Drogba has not announced that he will retire from international football after this tournament, it is expected to be the final swansong for the 35-year-old.

He is currently playing his football with Galatasaray, but he has said on several occasions that he still can carry on playing at the top level for several more years. After the recent fallout with Lamouchi, Drogba appears to have made up with the manager. He is expected to be picked for the World Cup 2014 as the captain of the team. Lamouchi has come out in praise of the striker, who has 60 goals in 98 appearances for the team. Even though he won almost everything at club level, Drogba remains trophyless at international level.

He has the chance to put it right in Brazil according to Lamouchi.

“For sure, the World Cup is going to be his last and he’ll want to achieve. For the Ivory Coast it is the third time to be at the World Cup and for this third adventure there is a sense that nothing is impossible. It’s not complicated. Didier Drogba propels Ivorian football and the Ivory Coast team. He is an icon, not only in Abidjan and elsewhere in the country but also across Africa. He’s a good professional, who contributes his part of the collective. He can be a big factor,” said Lamouchi.

CURITIBIA STANDS OUT

Curitiba has been chosen as one of the host cities for the upcoming World Cup 2014. The Arena da Baixada being built at this city is expected to be one of the finest stadiums in the country upon completion.

However, the delivery date of the stadium has been extended beyond schedule and this has angered FIFA general secretary Jérôme Valcke, who says that the organising committee may decide to remove Curitiba from the list of the host cities. This has brought out an immediate reaction from the local council, who have sanctioned an increased workforce towards finishing the stadium.

Valcke has given a four-week deadline in order to complete the stadium, which is still a long way off from being resembling like one. Local officials will now be giving FIFA daily reports about the construction pace. Valcke says that he will decide along with FIFA members on February 18 whether to continue with the stadium at Curitiba. Arena da Baixada has been scheduled to host four matches in the group stages including one involving current world champions Spain. Tickets have already been sold amounting to several million dollars when the likes of flight and hotel costs are taken into account.

Arena da Baixada is not the only one giving headaches for FIFA, as the Itaquerão stadium in São Paulo also faces the same situation.

“To be very honest, the situation as it stands is not ideal. The stadium is very delayed and well outside the delivery schedule to ensure best use by Fifa and the Fifa World Cup. All parties have to decide whether the stadium is in a position on that date to give us the confidence to hold World Cup matches there, without risking the organisation of the event,” said Valcke.

Even Brazil’s sports Ministry admitted that work was going well behind schedule.