The Elephants coach Ibrahim Kamara, who is ably assisted by former Arsenal and Manchester City defender Kolo Toure, admits his team need improvement ahead of the finals set for next June in Cameroon.
Ivory Coast have booked their place at the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations after a 1-1 draw on Sunday with Guinea who have also qualified by virtue of the outcome.
The 2015 AFCON champions have since lost their brilliance and cutting edge push that made them a formidable side not long ago. Despite being paired against less competitive teams like Rwanda, Central African Republic and Guinea, the Elephants struggled across the qualifiers, registering two wins, two draws and a defeat across five games played.
“The Ivorian team is undergoing a transformation. After the 2015 AFCON victory many players left and many others, younger, were brought in. Some of the newcomers were later dropped because of poor showing and were replaced,” Kamara told ACLsports from Conakry.
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“Therefore, blending the outfit has not been easy. We don’t have any timeline. We are working to produce a good team. We don’t know how long it would take, perhaps beyond the 2019 AFCON.
“However, our qualification is proof of the little progress we have made so far. We will continue working because the team still need improvement before the AFCON.”
The continental flagship competition has been moved from January to June / July, a development that would raise the standard of the competition, according to Kamara.
“I can sense it. The 2019 AFCON is going to be tough, intense due to the change of calendar. During that period, European leagues, where most of our African professionals ply their trade, will be on holidays. Players would have a relaxed spirit for the AFCON and play without fear of injury or losing their spots when they return from the tournament.”
Ivory Coast will play host to Rwanda in the final qualifying game in March next year, which happens to be a dead rubber.