Ivory Coast midfielder Yaya Toure has said he knows how much is riding on their FIFA World Cup performance back home.
The Ivorians are preparing to compete in their third successive World Cup finals after a debut appearance in Germany eight years ago, but they have yet to reach the knockout stages.
Since 1999, two civil wars have broken out in the west African nation, and Toure feels the fortunes of the national side have been instrumental in helping Ivorians in their homeland.
"For many years, football has played a big part in the lives of the people," the Manchester City man told the Mirror.
"Life during the war was so difficult for everyone. Conditions were bad, life was tough, and we just wanted to give our people some happiness.
"The aim of the team has always been to play together and to make the people of the Ivory Coast feel happy and proud about our country.
"We say to them, 'enjoy the way we play football, don't think about the war'. Of course, that is good. It makes you feel proud. But it also puts you under a lot of pressure every time you play for your country.
"Because you know how important it is, you are desperate to do well. You can't always win in football. Sometimes there are disappointments – and we have had too many disappointments.
"That's when, sometimes, it can get too much for the people and they show the negative side of their passion."
Toure said the time is now for Ivory Coast to display their potential, and also hinted his international retirement could come soon.
"We have an amazing squad of players and we all think it is about time we reach our full potential," Toure said.
"When I look around and see players like (Didier) Drogba, (Salomon) Kalou, (Wilfried) Bony, Gervinho and (Didier) Zokora, I can only be filled with confidence.
"Why we haven't gone on to win a trophy is something I can't understand.
"We want and we hope we make it soon because some of us haven't got a lot of time left to be winners.
"It won't be long until we have to step aside and let the younger generation come through."comments