Didier Drogba - I wish I had a chance to play AFCON in Ivory Coast

Didier Drogba - I wish I had a chance to play AFCON in Ivory Coast

Ivory Coast’s most popular player, Didier Drogba, wishes to roll back the years and don the famous orange colours just to be part of the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) tournament on home soil next year.

Drogba, who was one of the ambassadors for the 2023 AFCON tournament draw on Thursday night in Abidjan, retired without lifting the AFCON trophy.

With a well-decorated record in international football, 11 goals in 24 AFCON games, the Chelsea legend—who played in two AFCON finals (2006 and 2012) is excited by next year’s AFCON.

"Listen, when you say that I get goosebumps because I never had a chance to play an African Cup of Nation in Cote d'Ivoire and I wish I was still playing because it would have been amazing for me to perform here in front of my people. It's a blessing for us to be able to host this competition and you are all welcome and we gonna do our best to make you feel at home and have the best experience," Drogba said.

Drogba’s 65 goals at international level make him the Elephant’s all-time leading goal scorer and it will take time for it to be matched and overtaken.

Reflecting on the draw that also has seen the hosts being paired against their arch-rivals and neighbours Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea, and Guinea Bissau in Group A.

Drogba tips Nigeria amongst the favourites for this AFCON and expects a tough clash against them.

"All of them. I hope you'll be here to watch all these games because it's gonna be a great competition. Challenges are gonna be really tough but that's what we want. That's how you get beautiful football and it's a tough group for Ivory Coast because Nigeria is not a common team, it's one of the best teams and one of the favourites of the tournament and the continent," Drogba added.  

The hosts open the tournament on the 13th of January against another West African nation in Guinea Bissau and Drogba says a win in the opening game sets the tone for the tournament.

"So, we gonna work hard, we gonna keep working and we hope that we gonna win our first game. It all starts with the first game and then we'll see."