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Ivory Coast admits W/Cup might be bridge too far

02 June 2015, 15:23

Toronto - Ivory Coast snatched a maiden Women's World Cup berth just five minutes from the end of their qualifying campaign last year but by their own admission might find the standard in Canada some way above their ability.

While their male counterparts are African champions, the Ivorian women had little success until the qualifying tournament in Namibia when they faced South Africa in an all-important playoff for third place.

After seeing off wave after wave of opposition attacks, Ida Guehai's late goal completed a fairytale passage to the June 6-July 5 Women's World Cup for a team ranked 67th in the world.

"We are the team least expected to be there but we must believe and take our chance," coach Clementine Toure said of the trip to Canada.

But drawn in the same group with Germany and Norway leaves Ivory Coast with little chance of any impact, although a result against fellow World Cup debutant Thailand in their second game in Ottawa on June 11 will be seen as a target.

Also read: Super Falcons win another friendly

"They will be complicated opponents," added Toure, who won the Africa Women's Championship in charge of Equatorial Guinea in 2008, of their Asian counterparts.

"We will not go to Canada as victims. We want to achieve as much as we can and give a good image of ourselves."

Nicknamed Les Elephantes, there are not many changes in personnel from last October's African Women's Championship, where they booked their berth.

They have a handful of players at clubs outside of the country, with Jose Nahi scoring four goals for her Russian club Zvesda Perm in this season's UEFA women's Champions League.

There are also players based in Morocco, but the bulk come from home-based teams.

The Ivorian build-up to the World Cup has been chaotic with a planned training camp in France put on ice.

It was only weeks before the tournament kicks off that the Ivory Coast government agreed to fund their preparations, by which time it was too late to organise any training camp save for an early departure to Canada and a few warm-up friendlies.

But the Ivorians did beat fellow African qualifiers Cameroon in a recent friendly at home. It is, however, the only international they have played since their triumph over South Africa, leaving them vastly short of match practice for the World Cup.

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- Reuters


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