Kalou wants England showdown

Ivory Coast striker not intimidated by Group of Death

Kalou: Confident ahead of kick-off

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Chelsea forward Salomon Kalou has told skysports.com that he wants Ivory Coast to prove their ability against England at the World Cup.

"We can go as far as we want. We should not be afraid of other teams and just play our game. At the end, it is 11 against 11."

Salomon Kalou

Quotes of the week

The two sides have been drawn in different groups for the finals in South Africa next summer, but they could potentially meet at the semi-final stage.

Kalou was upset Ivory Coast were not allocated alongside England in Group C, with Vahid Halilhodzic's side instead landing in Group G alongside favourites Brazil, Portugal and North Korea in a perceived Group of Death.

The Chelsea man therefore hopes to meet Fabio Capello's team at the last-four stage so that he and his team-mates can demonstrate their skill, indicating a determination to eliminate the country he calls home at club level.

When asked if he was disappointed not to have been drawn in the same group as England, Kalou told skysports.com: "Yes, because when you go to these type of competitions you want to play against the best and prove yourself.

No fear

"So playing against England was an opportunity for us to see if we are a good team.

"The draw was not on our side with England but, you never know, maybe we will meet them in later rounds."

Ivory Coast's first match is against Portugal in Port Elizabeth on 15th June 2010 followed by a meeting with Brazil before their group-game schedule concludes against Korea.

Despite a difficult group, similarly testing to 2006 when Ivory Coast drew Argentina, Holland and Serbia & Montenegro, kick-off cannot come soon enough for Kalou and he insists a tricky-looking fixture list holds no fear.

He said: "We can go as far as we want. We should not be afraid of other teams and just play our game. At the end, it is 11 against 11."

Memory

After missing out in 2006, the 24-year-old is determined to make his mark on arguably the greatest sporting competition on the planet having watching the likes of France's Zinedine Zidane illuminate previous tournaments.

Kalou said: "It is a great opportunity. It will be my first World Cup, and it is in Africa.

"I am very excited because it is a brilliant chance to play against the best countries and it is a competition that every player wants to take part in."

He added: "My memories of the World Cup were the French national team with Zidane in 1998. That was the first time they won it.

"Coming from a French colony in Africa, everyone was supporting the French national team and it is a great memory."

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Salomon Kalou was speaking at an event for Thomas Cook Sport, official travel partner of Chelsea and the UK's number one sports tour operator. Thomas Cook Sport takes football fans closer to the live action and offers Chelsea match breaks and 2010 World Cup packages. For more information, visit www.thomascooksport.com or call 020 8739 2360.