By Pete Wilson
28 March 2010
Sven Goran Eriksson landed his fifth job in four years this evening when he signed a contract to manage the Ivory Coast, aka Les Elephants, at this summer’s World Cup in South Africa, where the West African nation could face England in the semi-finals or final.
Eriksson was the manager of England at the World Cups of 2002 and 2006, when his charges lost at the quarter-final stages in both events, respectively to Brazil and Portugal. In a quirk of fate, Eriksson’s Ivory Coast are in the “group of death”, Group G, along with both Brazil and Portugal this summer. North Korea are the fourth team in that section.
England are in Group C with the USA, Algeria and Slovenia. If England and Ivory Coast were both to win their groups and both make it as far as the semis, they would meet in the last four on 6 July in Cape Town. If they both progressed from their groups in second place, they would meet in the second semi-final on 7 July in Durban. If they both progressed, but with either one as a group winner while the other was group runner-up, they could not meet before the final in Johannesburg on 11 July.
Eriksson stepped down as England’s manager in 2006, took over at Manchester City in 2007, took charge of Mexico in 2008, and then became the technical director of Notts County in 2009. He left County last month after promised funds to take the club up the English leagues had failed to materialise.
The Ivory Coast’s football federation said in a statement this evening that it expects Eriksson to ensure an “honourable participation” in South Africa. Eriksson got the job after Guus Hiddink turned it down to manage Turkey.
“Aware of the great expectations of our population who have taken a keen interest in the matter, the executive committee focused its choice on Mr Sven-Goran Eriksson,” said a federation statement.
“The Swede has been, among others, coach of England and Mexico. He is an experienced technician who has been proven.
“His mission is to lead our team during this World Cup, and to ensure that there is an honourable participation in a competition reserved for the top 32 football nations in the world, and it obviously will be difficult.
“Therefore, the executive committee of the FIF appeals to the sacred union between the Elephants and their coach.”