22 November, 2021
28 February, 2023
12 Vafessa Fofana (CIV)
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Cote d'Ivoire's Fofana: ''We want to finish without a loss''


LUANDA (Angola) - Cote d'Ivoire may have already qualified for this year's FIBA Basketball World Cup, but there is no room to rest on their laurels, according to the words of two of their veteran players.

For different reasons, Vafessa Fofana and Charles Abouo, who spoke to FIBA.basketball on Thursday, feel their team will not take the final leg of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 African Qualifiers lightly.

"We are beginning the window without the stress of trying to qualify, but we want to finish without a loss. So we have to give our best," said 30-year-old Fofana.

Fofana, who currently plays for Gravelines-Dunkerque in France's PRO A, says the final window, which opens on Friday, February 24 at the Kilamba Arena, is an opportunity for a new crop of players to step up and those returning to the international fold to put themselves back in the reckoning.

"We want to introduce new young to help us prepare for the World Cup. There are some who are back with the team and want to show want they can still do," said Fofana. 

One of the players returning to the Elephants team in the final window is Charles Abouo, who plays for ESSM le Portel in France's PRO B.

Abouo, who featured for his country at the 2010 FIBA Basketball World Cup, says they want to put the final touches to their impressive campaign for the West Africans.

"We have qualified already, but for myself, it's an honour to come and represent the national team. I also want to help them improve. It's my first window, and a lot of players like myself, who are experiencing it for the first time want to show what we can do and help to finish this campaign on a good note," said 33-year-old Abouo.

Charles Abouo

Both Abouo and Fofana were a part of the Ivorian team that participated in the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup and held different views on how the team could improve ahead of the tournament in Japan, Indonesia and the Philippines.

"We need to play together. The team chemistry of four years ago was not great. I think we prepared poorly. So in this year's tournament, we have to do better. We did so in the AfroBasket (2021) and hopefully [we] can continue in the same manner," said the 2.01m (6ft7in) Fofana, who was part of the Ivorian team that finished second in the AfroBasket two years ago in Kigali.

Abouou felt the team needed to pick up victories in Asia.

"We want to win a game or multiple games. We have to do the things it takes to win a game and it begins with the habits that we build here," said Abouo.

Vafessa Fofana

This group of Ivorian players have much to prove and have the opportunity in the remaining games of the African Qualifiers to convince coach Dejan Prokic to select them for the trip to Asia.

Cote d'Ivoire's fixtures:
vs Nigeria: Friday (14:00 GMT+1)
vs Uganda: Saturday (16:30 GMT+1)
vs Cape Verde: Sunday (15:30 GMT+1)