Ivorian legend Didier Drogba has described his nation’s tough Africa Cup of Nations group as an “exciting challenge” after they were drawn alongside regional heavyweights Nigeria.
The two-time AFCON winners will face the three-time champions Nigeria in Group A, alongside Equatorial Guinea and Guinea-Bissau following Thursday’s final draw in Abidjan.
Drogba, Cote d’Ivoire’s all-time leading scorer, said playing the Super Eagles promises to be a thrilling early test for the tournament hosts next January.
“It is a very difficult group. Nigeria is of course one of the favourites and to have them in our group, it is going to be an exciting challenge,” said Drogba.
“But we are up for it. This is the beauty of a competition like AFCON, so we are ready to take on the challenge and let the best teams of this group and all the groups qualify.”
Ivory Coast, champions in 1992 and 2015, possess a squad laden with elite talent including top stars Wilfried Zaha and Eric Bailly.
But they cannot afford to underestimate Nigeria, whose rich array of attacking options like Victor Osimhen and Alex Iwobi make them serious contenders.
Equatorial Guinea and Guinea-Bissau have proven they can spring surprises at AFCON, meaning complacency will be punished in what promises to be a hotly-contested group.
For Drogba, the tension and excitement of such heavyweight clashes on home soil will inspire the Elephants to rise to the occasion when the tournament gets underway in under 100 days.