Eriksson urges Ivory Coast players to improve

ABIDJAN - New Ivory Coast coach Sven-Goran Eriksson challenged his players to improve on recent performances when he named his preliminary 29-man World Cup squad on Tuesday.

The highly-rated Ivorians were plunged into disarray when they suffered a shock defeat by Algeria in the quarter-finals of the African Nations Cup in Angola in February.

That display led to the sacking of former coach, Bosnian Vahid Halilhodzic.

"The players ... they all agree they think they can do much better than they have done recently," Eriksson told a news conference. "There are a lot of good football players in this country, a lot are top class in the world.

"From Monday it's up to my players to try to make a team of it. The quality's there but quality's not enough.

"I'm extremely proud to have this job, to take them to the World Cup, and I'm also very positive we can do well," the Swede added.

The Ivory Coast squad, led by Chelsea striker Didier Drogba, have been drawn in Group G in South Africa next month along with Brazil, Portugal and North Korea.

"We have to be ready when the World Cup starts because the games we have they are difficult," said Eriksson. "We have to be more than ready.

"If we don't play as a team we can never ... (win). So the main target is to play as a team ... on and off the pitch."

There were no surprises in the squad which will be trimmed to 23 by June 1.

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