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Lamouchi looking to get best out of aging squad

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 30, 2014 at 11:12 am •  Published: May 30, 2014

The World Cup offers Sabri Lamouchi the chance to bring the best out of an aging Ivory Coast squad.

Despite having no club experience to speak of, Lamouchi got the job two years ago. He took over from Francois Zahoui, who was replaced after leading the Ivory Coast to the 2012 African Cup of Nations final, where the Elephants lost to Zambia in a penalty shootout.

The 42-year-old Lamouchi took charge of his first major tournament at the African Cup in 2013 and was not afraid to make difficult decisions. None more so than occasionally leaving Didier Drogba — the country's all-time top scorer with 64 goals — on the bench.

Although hopes were high, Ivory Coast lost to eventual champion Nigeria 2-1 in the quarterfinals.

However, dropping Drogba sent a clear message to the rest of the squad that Lamouchi would not be pushed around or dictated to by some of the big names in a squad also featuring Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure, Roma forward Gervinho and Lille striker Salomon Kalou.

"My job is to make sure this Elephants team is the most competitive possible, and that they make the Ivorian people proud," Lamouchi said.

There are no favors under Lamouchi, whose watchwords are discipline and rigor, and reputation counts for little in his eyes. He has tried to bring some younger players into the squad, such as goalkeeper Mande Sayouba, thus creating a better balance and increasing competition for places.

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