SVEN GORAN ERIKSSON’S appointment to lead the Ivory Coast into the World Cup this summer is “a dream come true” according to Chelsea striker Didier Drogba. But it's a costly dream.
Though former England and Mexico boss Eriksson, 62, could earn £22,000 a day plus unlimited expenses for his three months in charge, Drogba believes: “Sven has come at the right time. There is no doubt he will succeed. I have every belief in his ability. He knows the game. “
Yet it was Drogba, banned for two matches today over his antics when Chelsea were knocked out of the Champions League a fortnight ago, who called for ex-boss Guus Hiddink to be appointed when Vahid Halihodzic left after Ivorians qualified for the finals in South Africa.
There is widespread outrage over Eriksson’s typically vast remuneration. In a nation where the average salary amounts to a mere £3 a day, the Swede – last in charge at lowly Notts County in England's League Two – has been given a flat in London, a team credit card, unlimited expenses and a salary of £270,000 plus a win bonus of £1.7m.
But to earn that bonus, Eriksson will have to negotiate a route past Brazil and Portugal, the teams that knocked his England side out in 2002 and 2006 at the quarter-final stage. North Korea also feature in a tough Group G. They will be based on the banks of the Vaal River, with qualifying matches in Port Elizabeth, Johannesburg and Nelspruit.
Drogba added: "For weeks we have been pondering going to the World Cup without a coach. Now I don't have to wake up every morning and think about the future of my team without a coach. We are going to South Africa to win big.
“This is not something I am saying alone. We can improve on our last World Cup in Germany. It has to be better this time around and I hope Sven provides us with that spirit and direction."
Ultimate success may not be a pipe-dream. The Ivorians are rated 22 in the world by FIFA. Drogba, Chelsea’s top scorer this season with 24 goals, will be backed by brothers Kolo Toure (Manchester City) and Yaya Toure (Barcelona), Arsenal’s Emmanuel Eboue and Chelsea team-mate Salomon Kalou in South Africa, where Sven will stay in luxury accommodation costing over £22,000.
Eriksson is no stranger to big pay packets. He racked up pay totalling £16million after stints with Man City, Mexico and Notts County since his stint with England.
The details of his bonus? On top of his basic £270,000 for three months, he will earn £180,000 bonus for qualification from Group G. He will get another £270,000 for reaching the quarter-finals and £360,000 for the semis. He will get £450,000 for reaching the final at Soccer City on July 11 and another £450,000 if they actually achieve global conquest.
And all this for a man who admits he does not speak a word of French, the official language of the Cote d'Ivoire.