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Marseille, the Ivory Coast and the Drogba memory

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This Friday, March 25, the French football team won 2-1 against Côte d’Ivoire in a friendly match at the Vélodrome stadium in Marseille. A magical place for Ivorian supporters who all know the history between the Marseille city and the legend Didier Drogba.

From our special correspondent in Marseille,

More than five years after facing the Blues in Lens in a friendly – ​​last France game facing an African nation – the Ivorian supporters took out the flags, sang the songs and marched on the avenue du Prado towards the Vélodrome.

At nightfall, joy was felt, like this chilly little breeze, which didn’t scare anyone. So we hugged and laughed. The Ivorian community of Marseille could not ignore this festive meeting, and no less serious for the Elephants, not qualified for the 2022 World Cup, who stopped against Egypt in the round of 16 of the last CAN. in Cameroon, despite a workforce including Éric Bailly, Sébastien Haller, Wilfried Zaha and Nicolas Pépé, Marc-Vivien Foé Prize in 2019.

Papin the traitor, Drogba the idol »

It’s a bit like our own World Cup “, declared the day before the Ivorian defender Serge Aurier. These meetings, at the Vélodrome and at Wembley against England, ” I see them as a closure of the past two years and as an opening to the future “, with the ambition to show that “ Ivorian football honors these meetings “Said Elephants coach Patrice Beaumelle, at the end of his contract next month.

For Ivorian fans, the Vélodrome remains a symbol. It is here that the legend Didier Drogba came to make the heyday of the Marseille club during the 2003-2004 season, and that he played his first European matches.

Although he only stayed for a short time, Drogba’s shadow still hangs over the edge of the stadium. ” Papin the traitor, Drogba the idol. And we don’t even know why! Welcome to Marseilles “, jokes the waiter of a pizzeria, in his singing accent. Sami, 20, salesman in the Marseille supporters’ shop, is sorry not to have known ” his idol ” at that time.

France-Côte d’Ivoire: first match of the Blues against an African selection since 2016

Didier Drogba during charity match at the Vélodrome, October 13, 2021.
Didier Drogba during charity match at the Vélodrome, October 13, 2021. AFP – NICOLAS TUCAT

We always dreamed that he would come back one day »

Drogba, twice finalist of the African Cup of Nations, but who did not lift the trophy in 2015, even had the right to a tifo this evening with his Marseille jersey and that of the Elephants. The Champions League winner in 2012 with Chelsea was on everyone’s mind.

He is the player who has brought a lot to his country, and to OM. He marked us for life. We always dreamed that he would come back one day. There was enthusiasm at each transfer window and one day, we had to face the facts: he would never come back. But he has a Marseille heart “says the YouTuber Bengous who compares Drogba to Jean-Pierre Papin, Fabrizio Ravanelli or even Mamadou Niang.

I’m not very football, but as an Ivorian, I can’t miss this meeting smiles a student member of the Ivorian Fraternity association, who spent hours organizing the day’s party. ” It’s difficult to turn the Drogba page with Côte d’Ivoire. We grew up with him. In 2006, during the civil war, we went to the World Cup with him “.

France – Ivory Coast: Sébastien Haller, clockwork orange

Pepe the evening scorer

Tonight, Côte d’Ivoire wanted to show a conquering face against the double world champions. Like Pépé who tested Hugo Loris with a shot from the left towards the near post (12th). The Arsenal player managed to surprise the French goalkeeper a few minutes later with a shot from a tight angle after eliminating Lucas Hernandez on the right (19th), before Olivier Giroud equalized in stride (22nd). At the end of the game, Aurélien Tchouaméni will give victory to the Blues (90th + 3).

In Marseille, the Ivorian supporters remembered the Drogba era, while hoping that this new generation ” win “CAN 2023 at home and” find » the lawns of the World Cup in 2026. The night should be long for the Ivorian community of Marseille who will want to extend the party in memory of Drogba and hope the best for Nicolas Pépé and his teammates.

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