Next World Cup unique chance for African team: Drogba

LONDON – The 2010 World Cup in South Africa offers the best chance for an African team to win soccer's biggest prize, Ivory Coast captain Didier Drogba said on Thursday.

"I think this World Cup in Africa is very important for us, for the continent, not only for the Ivory Coast and not only for me," Chelsea striker Drogba told a news conference.

"I think this is going to be maybe the best chance for an African team to win the World Cup but it is not going to be easy," the 30-year-old said.

"Ivory Coast still have to qualify to go to 2010 and it is going to be a big, big, big battle because the teams are tough," he added at the launch of his autobiography.

Drogba’s country, which played at the 2006 finals in Germany but failed to progress from a group including Argentina and Netherlands, have reached the 20-team final phase of African qualifying from which five teams qualify for the World Cup.

Drogba also said he was glad he stayed at Chelsea after being linked with both Milan clubs in the last transfer window amid speculation he would leave the Premier League club.

He developed a close relationship with Jose Mourinho, who signed him for Chelsea from Olympique Marseille in 2004, and media reports speculated that he would follow the Portuguese coach when he took over at Inter Milan.

But Drogba said: "This (Chelsea) is the club which suits me best, I think, because this is the only club where I won all the titles I have now and, yes, I’m happy to be here and stay with my friends."

The striker helped Chelsea win two Premier League titles, the FA Cup and League Cup twice under Mourinho. Chelsea reached the Champions league final last May under the Portuguese coach’s successor Avram Grant, losing to Manchester United on penalties.

Drogba has seen little action under Chelsea’s new manager Brazilian Luiz Felipe Scolari, recovering from knee surgery after the season began and suffering another knee injury against CFR Cluj in the Champions League in Romania two weeks ago. Reuters