Befitting their status as one of the continent's powerhouses, Côte d'Ivoire strode through qualifying without losing a match, running away with their final qualifying group ahead of Burkina Faso, Malawi and Guinea. There only moment of genuine uncertainty came when they were on the brink of qualifying, although - as usual - Didier Drogba responded when his team needed him. The Chelsea man's decisive 70th-minute goal at Burkina Faso gave the side just enough insurance to hold off the Stallions 3-2 in Ouagadougou, and fittingly, it was his dramatic equaliser after coming off the bench against Malawi that gave the West Africans a 1-1 draw and the point they needed to reach South Africa. All told, the Chelsea man was top scorer for Les Elephants, with six goals in five matches.
Vahid Halilhodzic took the reins of his first national side when he assumed control of Côte d'Ivoire after the 2008 CAF African Cup of Nations. However, the Bosnian only made it through the next edition of the continental contest when he was sacked after a disappointing quarter-final finish at Angola 2010. After Guus Hiddink was linked with the job, Bernd Schuster and Sven-Goran Eriksson were both considered possibilities to lead the team at the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
• They are the only team to never failed to score in a FIFA World Cup match.
• Côte d'Ivoire conceded early goals in all three of their 2006 matches, with all six of their goals against coming before the 40th minute.
"At the last World Cup we played really well, but we were unlucky because we were in a very tough group with Argentina and Holland and went out in the first round. But I think with this kind of experience, it will be possible at South Africa 2010 to do much better. Perhaps we can make the quarter-finals and then semi-finals; this is something we can achieve," Côte d'Ivoire striker Didier Drogba.