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Football | Afcon

Sabri Lamouchi © Backpagepix

'Drogba’s presence doesn’t matter'



At a press conference on Friday in Rustenburg where Ivory Coast and Nigeria will lock horns in the quarterfinals of the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations, the Elephants coach Sabri Lamouchi described the atmosphere in his camp as calm and excellent ahead of the meeting.

The 41-year-old French coach said he and his men had never underestimated the Super Eagles and that they would play against them like every other great team.

“The fact that Nigeria came second in their group does not mean anything. The Nigerian press might not rate this team highly but we have watched them and they have many players who are capable of changing a match. So we are going to be prepared,” the former Inter Milan midfielder said.

When asked whether his captain Didier Drogba would be on the starting eleven, Lamouchi said it did not matter where the former Chelsea talisman would be that he had been a massive part of the outfit.

Saint Etienne midfielder Max Gradel, who joined the team prior the 2012 Afcon, praised Lamouchi for teaching them how not to underrate any team ahead of a match.

“I have to say that this manager has given us the state of mind to respect our adversary and it has helped us to focus on the task ahead. Yes, we have been favourites in most tournaments but we are not weighed down by these expectations,” Gradel said.

Both sides will meet on Sunday at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg.

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