Sacked Cote d’Ivoire coach blames political pressure for his premature departure.
|Eriksson led England at the previous two football World Cups [GALLO/GETTY]|
Former England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson was named the new coach of Cote d’Ivoire for the World Cup finals in South Africa – and said he was confident he could guide them out of the “group of death”.
The Swede, who guided England to the quarter-finals of the 2002 and 2006 World Cups, took over from Vahid Halilhodzic who was sacked after the Ivorians were knocked out in the quarter-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations in January.
The African team are in Group G at the June 11 to July 11 finals with Brazil, Portugal and North Korea.
“I am extremely happy and very excited,” said the Swede on Monday, a day after being appointed.
“It would be a great match if we could meet England – and hopefully in the final”
Sven-Goran Eriksson, Cote d’Ivoire coach
“The Ivory Coast is a good football nation with a lot of good players – it couldn’t be better.
“I know it is called the group of death but that just means the challenge is bigger.
“It will not be easy but I think the Ivory Coast with all their talents can get through it. That’s the first target and we will have to work very hard for it.
“England were also in a group of death in Japan in 2002 but they qualified and Argentina did not.
“This time Brazil are one of the favourites and Portugal are one of the best teams in Europe.
“But there are six African countries in the World Cup, it is in Africa for the first time, and I am sure two or three will spring some big surprises and we have to make sure we are one of those that do.”
Encounter to relish
The Ivorians cold possibly face Spain in the second round and cannot meet England before the semi-finals in what would be, for Eriksson, an encounter to relish.
“It would be a great match if we could meet England – and hopefully in the final,” he told Britain’s Press Association.
“England have a good chance of getting there, absolutely.
“We know there are five countries who would be considered the favourites – and of course England is one of them – but don’t forget the Ivory Coast have a lot of very good players who have lots of experience in the Champions League and the top leagues in Europe.
“In the World Cup you never really know what is going to happen.”
Eriksson’s last job in football was as director of football of English fourth division side Notts County after being sacked as coach of Mexico.
He quit in January this year when the ownership of the club changed hands.
Eriksson was also the manager of Manchester City before losing his job when Mark Hughes – also in the running for the Cote d’Ivoire post – was appointed.
Hughes was replaced at City by Roberto Mancini this season.