From Sébastien Haller to Evan Ndicka, the five key players of Ivory Coast

From Sébastien Haller to Evan Ndicka, the five key players of Ivory Coast
From Sébastien Haller to Evan Ndicka, the five key players of Ivory Coast

Max-Alain Gradel, the captain

“Max-Alain Gradel is the captain,” summarizes Patrice Beaumelle, Ivory Coast coach from 2020 to 2022, for AFP.

Aged 36, the only player already an African champion in the squad with Serge Aurier, in 2015, the entry on the scene of the framework with 107 selections (17 goals) sounded the awakening of the Elephants.

“He helps balance the team in collective work, he knows how to keep the ball, he is reliable, a hard worker and always thinking of the team before himself,” summarizes Beaumelle.

Jean-Michaël Séri, precision

The other element of experience incorporated by the new coach Emerse Faé, while Jean-Louis Gasset, dismissed after the 4-0 against Equatorial Guinea, had not used it in the first round.

His sense of the game worked wonders, particularly against Senegal (1-1, 5 tab to 4) in the round of 16.

“Séri is the sentinel, the metronome, the one who sets the tempo of the Elephants,” believes Beaumelle.

The former Nice resident, aged 32, carries out “shadow work”. “You have (Ibrahim) Sangaré, (Franck) Kessié, Seko (Fofana) who are more in volume, when you are a simple spectator you only see them, Jean-Michaël Séri is the one who will balance the team , a bit like Makelele during the Zidane era,” adds the former coach.

Seko Fofana, energy

His crazy races, his inexhaustible activity and his mule strike have brought a lot to Ivory Coast.

Seko Fofana scored the first goal of this CAN, against Guinea-Bissau (2-0), before sinking and being caught by critics, who accuse him of sometimes favoring his club over the national team.

But in the knockout phase he woke up, decisive in particular against Mali (2-1 ap) in the quarter-finals, where two of his strikes brought the Elephants’ goals, at the very end of regulation time then of the extension, because Seko never stops running.

Sébastien Haller, scorer on the hour

Sébastien Haller, the team’s most anticipated star, arrived with an ankle injury and was unable to play the first round.

He was going through an ordeal. Treated for testicular cancer, he remained scoreless for half a season with Dortmund, except in the German Cup against an amateur club. “The last year has been quite difficult for me and for my family,” he said.

But he gradually broke down, scored the equalizing goal against Senegal, weighed in against Mali in a sacrifice role, ten against eleven, and scored with a volley the goal in the semi-final against DR Congo (1- 0) then above all the title goal from a clever deflection in the final against Nigeria (2-1).

Evan Ndicka, the pillar

The only Ivorian player who played every minute with goalkeeper Yahia Fofana, Evan Ndicka was the boss of the defense of the orange selection.

Last come, first served. Elephant only since September, the former French youth selection has established himself as an essential defender.

Trained in Auxerre, hardened at Eintracht Frankfurt, Ndicka is now learning Italian tactics at AS Rome, at 24 years old, the young African champion has a bright future ahead of him.

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