The FIFA World Cup soccer tournament is coming fast upon us, scheduled to begin on June 11 in South Africa. While the traditional powers, such as Argentina, Brazil, Italy, and Germany, are still the favorites to win the whole thing, this tournament is a bit more wide open than usual. So that leaves room for some of the dark horse candidates to succeed, and one such candidate hails from a surprisingly large contingent of African teams in this yearâ€™s tourney. That contingent includes Nigeria, Cameroon, Algeria, Ghana, and the Ivory Coast. The Ivory Coast, in particular, is being pegged by experts as a surprise choice to shine, and they are led by a stable of world-class Muslim footballers.
Talk of the Cote Dâ€™Ivoire football team has to include the Toure brothers, Kolo and Yaya. Kolo, the eldest, is a central defender and current team captain of Manchester City of the English Premier League. Yaya is an accomplished midfielder for Spanish champions Barcelona, although he is contemplating a possible move to the English Premier League as well, possibly joining brother Kolo in Manchester City.
Abdel Kader Keita is another Muslim midfielder to make the final squad for the World Cup. He currently plays for Turkish powerhouse Galatasaray. Perhaps the most talented Muslim player on the Ivorian team is striker Salomon Kalou. He currently plays for English Premier League champions Chelsea, for whom he scored 12 goals this past season, including three in one game.
The Ivory Coast football team, or Les Elephants as they are also known, also have some non-Muslim factors going for them. First, there is striker Didier Drogba, possibly the finest goal scorer in the world, as his 35 goals for Chelsea this past season will attest. Also, the team has the veteran guidance of Swedish manager Sven Goran Eriksson, former English national coach (where he went to two world cups) and Mexican national coach, as well as former manager of such powerhouse clubs as Roma, Lazio, and Manchester City. All in all, the pieces are in place for a surprise rampage by Les Elephants at the 2010 FIFA World Cup.