Interview: Kalou - Ivory Coast are the team to beat at 2013 AFCON

In an exclusive interview, Côte d’Ivoire striker Salomon Kalou talked to MTNFootball.com about his club, his career and Afcon 2013.

Salomon Kalou says Ivory Coast are the team to beat at the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations

In an exclusive interview, Côte d’Ivoire striker Salomon Kalou talked to MTNFootball.com about his club, his career and Afcon 2013. 

Salomon, you joined Lille this summer from Chelsea and the first half of your season has rather been average. Are you struggling to adapt to the Ligue 1 after spending six seasons in the Premier League?

We are going through a difficult phase, and I am a bit like the team. When I adapt to the manner of play of my teammates and the Ligue 1, I think things will go better.

You experienced your best matches with le LOSC when the club was doing well between the tenth and twelfth weeks (three consecutive victories against Valenciennes, Evian and Brest). Could we say that when Lille is doing well, Salomon Kalou is doing well?

The two go together, when I’m on form, I am able to bring something extra to the team.

You arrived at le LOSC with – amongst others – the heavy task of filling the shoes of Eden Hazard. Is Lille expecting too much of you, too soon?

It’s not the same thing, it’s like saying Eden Hazard is there to replace Didier Drogba, it’s not possible. Eden Hazard was trained at this club, he grew up here, and he was immersed in the club’s system.

I cannot replace such a player in four months, everything has its time. I will make my mark at the club at the right time, but there is an adaptation that has to take place.
I am in a new club, a new city, I have to get used to certain things and after that, I think that I can show my qualities on the pitch.

Let’s have a quick look at your career. You started off at the Académie Mimosifcom, created in the mid-nineties by Jean-Marc Guillou in partnership with ASEC Mimosas. Most Ivoirian internationals over the past ten years were trained there. What was Jean-Marc Guillou’s secret to unearthing so much talent?

His secret was to go into each suburb of Abidjan, to discover talent and to mould them in his own way and get them playing together.

He managed to create a family with these young Ivoirians from the neighbourhoods of Abidjan, and that is what made Jean-Marc Guillou successful.

After a stint at Feyenoord Rotterdam, you joined Chelsea in 2006. During the six years spent in the Blues’ jersey, you won everything, including the prestigious Champions League trophy in your last season. Is the evening of 19 May 2012 your best professional memory?

I think so yes, because is it the most prestigious of competitions, and because we were a generation of players that reached the end.

We were together for quite a few years, and winning together with a collective spirit made it even more beautiful; winning it together was everybody’s dream.

You made your international debut in 2007, and at 27-years of age, you are going to compete in South Africa in your fourth Africa Cup of Nations, following those of 2008, 2010 and 2012. What are your worst and your best memories of the Afcon?

My worst Afcon is also my best, and that is last year’s. It was my worst because we lost in the final, but my best because it was my first Afcon final.

But I only want to remember the positive. We went into the final without having conceded a goal and really, we were a solid team. The Côte d’Ivoire team, we’re a team of friends.

Many pundits have labelled your Group D, including along with you Algeria, Tunisia and Togo, the ‘Group of Death’. Do you agree?

Algeria, Tunisia and Togo are good teams, but I think that the team to beat will be Côte d’Ivoire. We are the team to beat in this group.

Amongst the fifteen other nations participating in the continental tournament, which is the one you fear the most personally?

Amongst the teams that are going to compete in this Afcon, we respect everybody, because this competition has always sprung so many surprises.

We saw Zambia last year. Now there are favourites like Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa who will be playing at home.

This 2013 Afcon represents one of the very last chances for the first Académiciens (Copa, Lolo, Kolo, Chico, Maestro, Romaric) to win the continental trophy with Côte d’Ivoire. Has the hour finally arrived for the ‘Mimos’ generation?

It is true that this is a competition that we want to win together, but at the same time it is a very difficult competition to win. We are up against very strong teams, and each one is bent on beating Côte d’Ivoire.

Source: MTNFootball.com

READERS COMMENTS

  1. GH FUO, THINK BIG!!! says:

    A SIDE WITH VETERAN PLAYERS. ALL UR PLAYERS ARE OVER THE HILL. OR SOON TO BE. PLUS, INDIVIDUALLY, U ARE ALL NOT PLAYING WELL FOR YOUR CLUBS. THIS TEAM WILL BE BOUNCED IN RD 1….IC WONT QUALIFY FROM THIS GROUP. YAHAYA EVEN PLAYS BELOW PAR AT AFCON BCOS HE DOSENT WANT TO GET INJURED. MAN CITY NEED HIM MORE THAN EVER ESP WITH BALOTELLI MISBEHAVING.

  2. african says:

    acording to Kalou the teams he fears in order zambia,ghana,nigeria and sa

  3. Tampuori says:

    He did nt mention Zambia as a favourite. He only said we saw Zambia at d lst time.

  4. bawah says:

    FOR THE FIRST TIME AN IVORIAN IS NOT UNDERRATING OTHER TEAMS!

  5. Dr Who says:

    On paper CIV are favourites but they usually fall to the north africans.we shall see whether they can match up to Tunisia & Algeria.