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Doumbia join Ivory Coast galaxy of stars


The 2012 Africa Cup of Nations is the stage on which Russia-based striker Seydou Doumbia could well force his way into the galaxy of stars from the Ivory Coast.

Didier Drogba, Yaya and Kolo Toure, Gervinho, Salomon Kalou and Chieck Tiote are already well known for their exploits for club and country.

It is now the chance for 24-year-old Doumbia to shine on the biggest stage of African football.

It has been a long way from the J-League in Japan to Switzerland with BSC Young Boys and now top Russian club CSKA Moscow and the Elephants of the Ivory Coast, where he is rubbing shoulders with the likes of Drogba and Yaya Toure.

In Switzerland, he was Player of the Year as well as top scorer in the 2008/09 and 2009/10 seasons.

How much progress the quicksilver striker has made was further underlined when he was picked as the top player in the Russian league last year to follow an illustrious list of past winners that included Viktor Onokpo and Yuri Zhirkov.

Doumbia has always shown that he knows his way to goal since he topped scored in the Ivorian league in 2005, and now his 24 goals in 30 appearances for CSKA this season have got the big clubs interested.

"He's a big asset for any team,' remarked CSKA coach Leonid Slutsky after seeing the Ivorian's five goals including one at Inter Milan qualify the Russian army team to the Round of 16 of this season's UEFA Champions League.

And once he gets his chance at the Nations Cup, he will again show that despite not being the biggest man on the pitch, his speed, mobility, direct style and power could unsettle the most organised defences.

At the 2010 World Cup, he managed only an appearance as a substitute in the 3-0 win over North Korea.

Doumbia will enjoy a bigger role at the Nations Cup after the Ivory Coast coach Francois Zahoui hailed him for stepping in for the absent Drogba in a recent friendly against South Africa.

'I want to rely on all the players and not just an individual," said Zahoui.

"The absence of Drogba did not affect us negatively because we were able to plug that hole with with Doumbia."

Zahoui added: "We can't rely on our so-called superstars. During the 2010 World Cup, Drogba was injured and we still relied on him and it backfired.

"We have learned from Ghana. Michael Essien and Sulley Muntari are their key players but their coach got results even without them."