Ivory Coast which is one of the African giants has appeared in the World cup only once; in 2006 when they were paired in the same qualification zone with Cameroon.
Although Cameroon beat them at home and away, a draw with Egypt in Yaoundé gave Ivory Coast an edge. They were eliminated at group stage in the World cup.
For the 2010 race, the Ivorians finished qualification without defeat, going through 12 matches in two group phases and progressing comfortably. The death of at least 19 people in a stampede at their home stadium in Abidjan in March ahead of a qualifier cast a dark shadow over their campaign.
COACH: Sven Eriksson
Didier Drogba (Chelsea): Aged 31 and plays in the attack line. With 40 goals in 60 international appearances, Drogba has proven vital for his country. He took them to the final of the 2006 African Nations Cup and now two World Cup tournaments, although he missed half of the 2010 qualifiers through injury. At club level, he has won both league and cup honours in England with Chelsea, who signed him from Olympique Marseille.
Salomon Kalou (Chelsea): Aged 24 and plays in the attack. As an exciting teenage talent with Feyenoord, Kalou was the subject of a lengthy, but ultimately unsuccessful, bid to win Dutch nationality before the 2006 World Cup. Eventually debuted for the Ivorians, where elder brother Bonaventure had previously been captain.
Yaya Toure (Barcelona): Aged 26 and plays in the midfield. A massive physical presence in the centre of midfield, Toure has taken a circuitous route through clubs in five different countries before signing for European champions Barcelona two years ago.
If an African team is to make a major impact on the 2010 FIFA World Cup finals in South Africa, Côte d'Ivoire are seen by many as the most likely candidates. And with world class talent throughout the starting 11, it's no wonder. Les Elephants also a point to prove after being eliminated in the first round at Germany 2006, in an extremely difficult group, where they lost 2-1 to giants Argentina and the Netherlands before coming from two goals down to beat Serbia and Montenegro 3-2. With more experience, and a little more luck in the draw, Didier Drogba and Co are certain to be a handful in attack as they look to cement their emerging pedigree on the international level at South Africa 2010.
Ivory Coast which is 16th on FIFA world ranking table is arguably the strongest of the African teams and will carry the hopes of an expectant continent, but rely too much on Drogba for inspiration. There are also several weaknesses in key positions, which could cost them but with a few lucky breaks, the Elephants could well become the first African side to advance past the last eight at a World Cup.