Drogba commits to Chelsea until June

DIDIER Drogba – ready to give everything in the Ivory Coast’s quest to live up to their tag as favourites for the African Nations Cup – cleared up his immediate club future on the eve of the tournament by revealing he intends to stay at Chelsea at least until the summer.

The 33-year-old striker has been linked with a move away from Stamford Bridge this month, with Turkish giants Fenerbahce and Chinese outfit Shanghai Shenhua reportedly eager to sign him. But the Ivorian told France Football magazine the announcement of his departure would be “not before next June”.

Earlier this week, former Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti claimed the Blues would have to sell Drogba for Fernando Torres to flourish, a view rejected by current manager Andre Villas-Boas. The Ivory Coast squad is full of star names from Europe’s leading clubs, but they have not been able to turn their potential into continental success in recent times, with the nation’s sole Nations Cup triumph coming 20 years ago.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Starting their campaign tomorrow against Sudan, however, the Elephants are strongly fancied to progress from a group which also includes Burkina Faso and Angola.

The tournament is being co-hosted by Equatorial Guinea, who will make their African Nations Cup debut when the event kicks off in Bata today, and Gabon, who open their campaign on Monday against Niger in Libreville, the city which will host the final on 12 February.

Equatorial Guinea, nicknamed The National Lightning, are ranked 151st in the world and will face a tough battle to get anything from their meeting with Libya, so much so that the son of long-standing president Teodoro Obiang Nguema has offered a reported prize of $1 million to be shared among the squad should they win the match. Further prizes of $20,000 have been offered for each goal in the match.

Wealthy supporters aside, a team of Equatorial Guinea’s resources would expect to struggle in the tournament to begin with, but their preparations were rocked when coach Henri Michel quit last month, giving replacement Gilson Paulo little time to prepare since his appointment a little over a fortnight ago.

Today’s other match is between the two other sides in Group A, Senegal and Zambia.