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Didi's Show: Ivory and Gold

"Who's going to take away our dream of beating Argentina? We have a chance to do so," says Didier Drogba.

india Updated: May 16, 2006 20:18 IST
DPA

Perhaps in the next decade, once his career is over, Didier Drogba will be a candidate for the presidency of his country, Ivory Coast. Such things happen fairly frequently in Africa. In countries plagued by long crises, few people achieve the popularity, and on occasions, the power of top footballers.

This occurred with George Weah, the former Milan star who, in 2005 came close to winning the presidential elections in Liberia. And nobody would be surprised if Drogba, the striker at English Premier League Champions Chelsea, were to find himself in a similar position one day.

Every time the Ivory Coast National team gets together before a match, it is clear that ‘Didi’ is the leading figure. More than a foot baller, he seems to be a pres ident, or a king. It was under such circumstances that DPA spoke to Drogba.

Excerpts:

The Ivory Coast's debut at the World Cup will be against Argentina. What do you expect from the match?

It will be very difficult, we know that. We didn’t have much luck with the draw. Argentina have very good players and a great pedigree as well. But who’s going to take away our dream of beating them? We have a chance to do so. It's not bad to start off as underdogs. In the qualifying round we eliminated Cameroon when nobody expected it, and in the African Nations Cup we defeated them for a second time. Argentina should not be too confident.

You experienced Leo Messi’s talent in the Champions League against Bacelona.

Yes, I already said it. If Argentina has many Messis, then of course we will face an almost impossible match, very difficult. I was surprised when they told me that he is just 19. His game is very good, he showed that he has no trouble playing next to Ronaldinho, Eto’o or Deco. The thing is that Argentina is one of the great world powers and always field excellent players. Right now everybody is talking about Messi, but I know that Argentina also hold other trump cards.

The draw was not very good.

Yes, we will be playing against great footballers. Crespo, Messi, Van Nistelrooy, Robben, Kezman, Stankovic... Holland are like Argentina, they place more emphasis on spectacular football. And Serbia and Montenegro are more like us, a more cautious team.

How far can the team go?

Perhaps we can get to the semi-finals, or to the quarter-finals. But it’s difficult to know how our team will do. In football anything can happen, and at the World Cup everybody has a chance.

Is it true that you were on the verge of quitting after losing at home to Cameroon in the qualifiers.

Yes, that was a huge disappointment. It hurt me for a long time. It was one of those mental blows you suffer during a football career. Fortunately things later turned around later.