Dancers to boost Elephants

Dancers to boost Elephants

Ivory Coast's World Cup squad, led by Chelsea striker Didier Drogba, have been training with new coach Sven-Goran Eriksson in Switzerland since the start of the week.

Joseph Bony, vice-president of the ministry's committee for team supporters, told Reuters this week the government would pay for travel, board and tickets, adding that they had been picked according to their singing and dancing ability. "We can say our team will not be alone," he said.

Former England coach Eriksson took over after the sacking of Vahid Halilhodzic in February following their quarterfinal exit against Algeria in the African Nations Cup in January.

Eriksson challenged his players to improve on recent performances when he named his preliminary 29-man World Cup squad in the West African nation's commercial hub of Abidjan.
The fans are hoping for a much better performance this time, although the Elephants have been drawn in a tough Group G along with five-time champions Brazil, Portugal and North Korea.

"We are visiting our sacred forest two or three times a week to support the fight," said Gnahouleou Emile, president of the team's supporters' club. "We will be there to galvanise them until the end."

Travel agents are cashing in on the tournament. Several are advertising package tours including flight, hotel and match tickets, although prices are prohibitively expensive for most.

Other Ivorians will watch from home, where big screen TVs in numerous palm-shaded beach bars will show the action.