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Ivory Coast Plays Its First-Ever World Cup Game Saturday


Four of the five African nations that qualified for the World Cup in Germany are making their first-ever appearance at football's premiere event. One of them is Ivory Coast and VOA Sports Editor Parke Brewer caught up with a group of the team's fans in Hamburg.

Ivory Coast will play its inaugural World Cup match here on Saturday night against Argentina. And it does not get any easier for the African team, nicknamed "The Elephants." The Elephants' other matches in Group C are against the Netherlands and Serbia and Montenegro. Many have dubbed this the so-called "Group of Death," meaning all four teams are strong.

But that does not bother Ivory Coast supporter Germaine Tahou, who has much confidence in her team. "No, problem, group of death. I answer we will kill Argentina, we will kill the Netherlands, we kill Serbia and Montenegro," she said.

Tahou is with the organization Cepici Procim, which organized the fans' travel from Abidjan here to Germany. They are passionate football fans who wear their team's colors proudly.

Tahou did not hesitate when VOA Sports asked about her team's top players. "You have (forward Didier) Drogba. You know Drogba? He's a famous player of Chelsea in England. You know (defender) Kolo Toure? Famous player of Arsenal, you know? Good players. And we trust they will win," she said.

Ivory Coast is coached by Henri Michel, a former French national team player and coach. This tournament marks the third time Michel has coached an African team in the World Cup. Neither Cameroon in 1994 nor Morocco in 1998 advanced past group play. But this team is likely his best, with a roster full of players who have the experience of competing in the strongest European leagues.

Even before the tournament begins for Ivory Coast, Tahou says the fans are already caught up in the excitement. "Everybody is enjoying it. Everybody is very very happy to participate in the first Cup of mundial (World Cup) in Deutsche country, in Germany. We are an African country and we support all African teams," she said.

From here in Hamburg after Saturday's game against Argentina, the Ivory Coast fans will travel to Stuttgart for their team's second match against the Netherlands next Friday and then to Munich for the final group match against Serbia and Montenegro.

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