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2014 FIFA World Cup Soccer Fitness Preview: Cote D’Ivoire – The Whole vs. The Sum Of Its Parts

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Because this is a World Cup year, I have decided to countdown to the tournament by providing a short soccer/fitness related preview of each of the 32 participating nations. In this installment, I will look at Cote D’Ivoire, one of the strongest teams from the African continent, who have drawn a group that includes Colombia, Greece, and Japan. Cote D’Ivoire play their first match against Japan on June 14th.

Cote D’ivoire boast a starting-11 that rivals any of the top teams in the world, including strikers Didier Drogba and Solomon Kalou, midfielders Yaya Toure, Didier Zokora, and Gervinho, and defenders Emmanuel Eboue and Kolo Toure.  At times, however, a highly talented team of individuals can underperform if they do not play as a cohesive unit on the pitch.  In the Ivoirian’s two previous World Cup appearances in Germany 2006 and South Africa 2010, they boasted a similar line-up of world stars (including some players who feature in this year’s squad), yet on both occasions they failed to progress past the group stage.  This year, with a slightly less difficult group than they had in either 2006 or 2010, Cote D’Ivoire has a great chance to reach the knockout round of the World Cup for the first time in history.

A lot of sports psychology research has been done into team dynamics, and how to get the best out of a group of talented individual athletes  that form a team.  In general, In general, the responsibility falls on the coach and leader(s) on the team (captains) to get all players to buy into the idea that they will be a stronger team – and get better results – if they work together, rather than if each individual works only for themselves.   Getting talented players who often have big egos and a large sense of self worth to behave and play in a less selfish way is challenging, but the rewards can be substantial.  For Cote D’Ivoire, the responsibility rests with French coach Sabri Lamouchi, and team captain Didier Drogba.  If they can get their team to believe that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, then we could see the Ivoirians progress at least until the round of 16, if not farther.  We will have to wait and see what happens in 2 months’ time.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about this topic.  Drop me a line here to get the conversation started.

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