Ivory Coast will target the perfect start to their FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign against Mali on Saturday. The Elephants are entering a new era, without the likes of Didier Drogba and the Toure brother Kolo and Yaya, but they will be confident of making a positive start.
Cote D'Ivoire have been drawn with Gabon, Morocco and their first opponents Mali in Group C, and considering the strength of the other three teams, they really cannot afford to slip-up, particularly in their home matches.
While several of the familiar names like Gervinho, Wilfried Bony and Serge Aurier, it will be interesting to see how Ivory Coast manager Michel Dussuyer copes without Yaya Toure, who announced his retirement recently, and legends like Drogba and Kolo Toure.
Dussuyer has decided not to call upon the services of the experienced forward Salomon Kalou, even if the manager will be glad to have Bony back in the squad, after missing the last time out through injury.
"Salomon Kalou has been going through a bit of a difficult time," Dussuyer said. "He has not played a match since our game against Sierra Leone (early last month).
"This is a player I can count on but he is not in any form at the moment. All I hope is that he quickly regains his fitness and gets back into his club side so that we can use him because we have some important assignments ahead of us."
One of the players Dussuyer will rely on and has the makings of being world-class is Eric Bailly, who has made a wonderful start to his Manchester United career following a big-money move in the summer transfer window from Villarreal.
Kolo Toure is someone who knows a thing or two about marshalling a defence, and the former Arsenal, Manchester City and Liverpool man, who currently plays for Celtic, believes Ivory Coast are in good hands with Bailly.
"Eric started brilliantly and the whole of our country is really, really happy and we are all really proud of him," Toure told United Review. "We knew before his transfer that he has great quality because he was playing with Villarreal, but it takes a lot to play for a big club like United and do what he's doing right now.
"We are so proud that he is playing for a big club in the best league in the world, playing in tough games against tough strikers. He has been outstanding overall and that shows the quality the boy has. We are all really proud of what he's doing right now, and we just pray he carries on."
Where to Watch Live
Ivory Coast vs Mali is scheduled for a 6pm local time (11.30pm IST, 7pm BST) start. Live Streaming and TV information for the World Cup qualifier is below.
India and UK: No Live coverage.
Africa: TV: SuperSport 3. Live Streaming: SuperSport Live Video.
Latin America: TV: ESPN. Live Streaming: ESPN Play.