Ivory Coast can lay down a marker ahead of the FIFA World Cup when they tackle tournament debutants Bosnia-Herzegovina on Friday.
The sides will go head to head in St Louis, Missouri as their preparations for Brazil kick up a gear in the United States.
The Ivorians have been unfortunate in the past two editions of the tournament, having been handed tough draws after being seen as outside favourites to spring a surprise.
In their bow on the world stage in 2006 – a tough draw brought Argentina and Netherlands in a group that the Ivorians were unable to get through.
And in 2010 they also fell at the first hurdle, finishing third in their pool behind powerhouses Brazil and Portugal.
However, in their six games at the finals, only Portugal have prevented Ivory Coast from scoring and winger Salomon Kalou has called for a defensive improvement as they prepare to tackle Colombia, Greece and Japan this time around.
When asked what his side must improve to succeed, Kalou replied: “Maturity, this is important. I think that we have been naive during the two previous editions of the World Cup.
“When we play at this level, it’s the details that make the difference.
“It is not necessarily the case that the team who plays the best football comes out as winner of a contest.
“It is the one that is more focused on regaining the ball or the one that is more concentrated to defend and be like this for 90 minutes in the match.
“Often, we have played concentrated for just 45 minutes.”
Bosnia scored an impressive 30 goals on their route to Brazil and will tackle Argentina as well as experienced campaigners Nigeria in Group F.
Regular qualifiers Iran make up the pool, but Bosnia will hope their recent upturn in form can continue on the biggest stage of all.
Ermin Bicakcic – who last week joined Hoffenheim from relegated Bundesliga outfit Eintracht Braunschweig – may not feature at Edward Jones Dome having struggled with injury through Bosnia’s training camp on home soil.
However, fellow centre-back and captain Emir Spahic has hailed the positive mood in the camp inspired by coach Safet Susic as the tournament looms.
Upon their departure to the United States, Spahic told reporters: “I can say that I am pleased with how we trained and the atmosphere around the team.
“We are leaving Bosnia, but we will carry Bosnia with us.”
Each side have played just once so far in 2014, Bosnia losing 2-0 to Egypt in March while Ivory Coast played out a creditable 2-2 come-from-behind draw with Belgium – a result sealed by Max Gradel’s late equaliser.
Friday’s meeting will be the first between the nations.
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