Ivory Coast Face Stern Belgium Test
Ivory Coast will have a chance to test their readiness for this year's 2014 Fifa World Cup when they take on Belgium in an international friendly at the King Badouin Stadium in Brussels on Wednesday evening.
The Elephants, long regarded as one of Africa's best sides, will be making their third successive World Cup appearance when they compete in the showpiece event in Brazil in June and July.
Having failed to progress from the first round at both the 2006 and 2010 tournament, Ivory Coast will be determined to go at least one step further this year and the key, according to coach Sabri Lamouchi, is to have the best possible preparation.
To that end, this match against Belgium's Red Devils serves as an excellent litmus test of the kind of quality opposition Ivory Coast will have to overcome at the tournament later this year.
Belgium may have last appeared at a World Cup in 2002, but their present generation of players is the envy of most international teams.
The European 'minnows' can boast truly world class players like goalkeeper Thibuat Courtois, defender and captain Vincent Kompany as well as slippery attacker Eden Hazard.
Add in the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Christian Benteke, Kevin Mirallas, Jan Vertonghen, Moussa Dembele and it is clear that Belgium will head to Brazil 2014 as one of the dark horses who, based on nothing more than the sheer talent at their disposal, could well be one of the teams to watch.
Coach Marc Wilmots has selected a full strength squad for this clash against the Elephants, though he has been urged by Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho not to field Hazard, who is in need of a rest according to the Portuguese manager.
As for the West Africans, they too have selected a strong squad, spearheaded by veteran striker Didier Drogba and powerhouse midfielder Yaya Toure, who on Sunday evening helped Manchester City win the League Cup in England.
This will be the first official clash between Belgium and Ivory Coast.