Ivory Coast debuting assistant coach Kolo Toure has jumped to the defence of his under-fire boss Marc Wilmots, whom many Ivorians see as a ‘weak coach’.
Under the Belgian manager, the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations winners have been struggling not only in the 2018 Fifa World Cup qualifiers but also in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying, where they have lost games at home to low-rated teams like Guinea and Gabon.
There is a lack trust in the coach amongst locals most of whom are not enthusiastic about the upcoming cracker against Morocco. Toure, who was surprisingly named as the Elephants assistant coach in September, has called on all and sundry to throw their support behind the team despite the concerns.
“I know and understand what people are worried about. Our team has not been performing like we wanted. But that doesn’t mean efforts are not being made to change things positively,” Toure said at a press conference attended also by Wilmots in Abidjan on Tuesday.
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“This is not the time for criticisms. It is time for support. Time is short and we need not waste it slamming one person or the other. You judge and criticise at the end of a match or a competition and not before.”
With the Ivorian team lacking a true leader and an influential figure in the locker room following the retirement of the likes of Didier Drogba and Yaya Toure, the return of Kolo Toure, who was capped 120 times between 2000 and 2015, is expected to instil leadership and focus, according to the Ivorian football association, FIF. How much dividends this would yield is yet to be known.
The former Arsenal and Liverpool defender is hopeful and believes the future of the team is bright.
“We are undergoing a stable transition, with many things being put in place. It takes time and since we believe we would get there, we are patient and want everybody to be as well.
“Things would change for the better. Better days are ahead of us. We shouldn’t destroy all that with criticisms. We are ready to face Morocco on our backyard and we are hoping for the best so that we can make it to Russia 2018.”
Toure is also a coach at the youth academy of his former club Celtic in Glasgow, Scotland.