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Africa Cup of Nations Qualification

Kalou: Ivory Coast do not need an overhaul and must take cautious approach to rebuild

09:36 BST 23/04/2022
England Ivory Coast 29032022
The 36-year-old former Chelsea player explains what the Elephants must do to have a successful Afcon

Former Ivory Coast international Salomon Kalou believes the country does not need a total overhaul for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations.

Instead, the 36-year-old former Chelsea striker has called on the Ivorian Football Federation to take a cautious approach as they plan for the qualifiers, whose finals the West African country will host.

“We don’t have to throw away all the good things, but we can make better the things we were lacking,” Kalou said as quoted by BBC Sport Africa. There are some great things we did in the past cup. We lost against Egypt on penalties but Egypt, a very tough opponent with a good level, reached the final.

“So let’s not question everything that we have done but work on what didn't work.”

Last month, Ivory Coast confirmed the exit of coach Patrice Beaumelle after missing out on the World Cup play-offs and a last-16 exit from this year’s Nations Cup, in Cameroon.

Kalou now believes they must go for the right man to replace Beaumelle.

“We need to find a good coach, then this coach would create balance between old and young players,” Kalou continued. “We have to build a team, because to perform in this type of competition you need a team, one player can't do everything. Without a good team, you just cannot win a tournament."

On Ivory Coast being drawn in Group H of the qualifiers alongside Zambia, Comoros, and Lesotho, Kalou said: “I think this is a way of preparing ourselves because we are not playing to qualify, we are playing to prepare a team.

“It's a challenge for the new coach coming in, he has to build a competitive team. As the host of the competition, we have to go all the way.

“Once you are playing at home, you get extra motivation from the fans. It can be hard pressure but it's also a positive one because when you play well you have the support of the whole country.”

Kalou believes when Ivory Coast next host for the Afcon, Africa will enjoy their hospitality.

“In my generation, we never had the luck to play this competition at home, so this is an opportunity to host such a big competition for the continent,” added Kalou, who managed 93 appearances for the Elephants and scored 27 goals.

“It was about time, and I don't know why we waited so long to host. Who doesn't want to play home on such a big stage of football? Receiving all those top teams at home is something any player could dream of.

“But now it's at home, we have to work very hard to make it a success. People are looking forward to it - they can’t wait to host this cup. Following the success in Cameroon, we want to do the same.

“We have some good food in Ivory Coast and people are going to enjoy themselves.”