Football in Africa is one of the most important sports. If not the most important. A continent that has been involved in one of the sports that has put it on the map in recent years. Especially thanks to the emergence of great footballers and very competent national teams. One of them is the Ivory Coast.
Côte d’Ivoire is one of Africa’s most important football nations. It has produced great legends and is considered one of Africa’s World Cup contenders. However, its local football has few opportunities and an infrastructure unsuitable for the elite.
Côte d’Ivoire League
The top division of Ivorian football is Ligue 1. It started in 1960 after gaining independence from France and has hardly changed its format since then. Despite its low quality, there is a national second division. There are also several regional divisions below it.
History and format
Côte d’Ivoire’s Ligue 1 started out as Superdivision. It kept that name for 44 years, until 2004 when it was renamed Ligue 1 Orange for sponsorship reasons. It eventually remained that name despite Orange’s departure.
Ligue 1 has 14 participants. The first of these gets access to the CAF Champions League, the African Champions League. The last two are relegated. They meet twice each season, once at home and once away. The league champion also competes in the Super Cup against the cup winner.
Clubs and achievements
The most successful club in Ivorian football is ASEC Mimosas. It has 28 titles in its trophy cabinet, almost half of the seasons (62) played. They are followed in second place by Africa Sports d’Abdijan with 18 league titles. Third, a long way behind, is Stade d’Abidjan with five titles.
Stade d’Abidjan and ASEC Mimosas are the only two Ivorian clubs to win a CAF Champions League. They did it once each. A statistic that shows how little superiority they have over clubs from other countries with stronger leagues such as Morocco or Egypt.
Côte d’Ivoire national football team
Côte d’Ivoire’s football has reached the ends of the earth thanks to the merits of its national team. This is where they are really strong. They are nicknamed “the elephants” and have won the African Cup of Nations on several occasions. That is where all their success lies.
Côte d’Ivoire in championships
Côte d’Ivoire’s role in the World Cups is centred on the last 20 years. Until its independence it did not have its own national team, so it was not able to fight for qualification until Germany 1974. Its first appearance came at Germany 2006, followed by South Africa 2010 and Brazil 2014. In none of them did they make it past the group stage.
Côte d’Ivoire has won the Africa Cup of Nations twice. The first was in Senegal in 1992 against Ghana. The last was in Equatorial Guinea in 2015, again against Ghana. In 2006 and 2012 they lost in the final to Egypt and Zambia respectively.
Many Ivorian players have performed at the highest European level. They include Didier Drogba, Yaya Touré, Kolo Touré, Gervinho, Salomon Kalou and Wilfried Bony. Today, the references are Willy Boly, Serge Aurier, Eric Bailly, Kessié, Akpa Akpro, Zaha, Pépé and Sebastian Haller.
Many internationally known players have come to Europe to launch their careers. Some of them did so at a young age in order to progress. Very few started and stayed in Côte d’Ivoire. The best way out for them is a football academy in Europe like SIA Academy.
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