By Stephen Byrne
The Fifa World Cup begins in Brazil on 12th June and we will be looking at Rovers’ connections with all participating countries.
Very few connections exist between Bristol Rovers and football in Cote d’Ivoire. One member of the Ivorian squad has played against Rovers in the Football League.
Max Gradel, who has scored twice in 23 full internationals and was in the side which played in the final of the 2012 African Cup of Nations, has in fact represented three teams against Rovers.
He was in the Bournemouth side which defeated Rovers 2-1 at Dean Court in April 2008. The following season, he played in the Leicester City team which won 2-1 at home to Rovers in November 2008. During 2009-10 he played in both Leeds United’s fixtures against Rovers, being sent off when Rovers visited Elland Road in May 2010.
Another Ivorian international who has appeared in a competitive fixture involving Rovers was Georges Ba. A striker born in Abidjan, Ivory Coast in January 1979, Ba has played for a number of clubs in France, but enjoyed brief spells in both England and Israel.
He played for Gillingham in only four League matches, but one of these came at The Memorial Stadium in April 2008, when John Nutter gave the Kent side the lead after 38 minutes only for Steve Elliott to equalise six minutes from time.
Landry Zahana-Oni, born in Abidjan in the Ivory Coast in August 1976, played for Luton town against Rovers in February 1999.
François Zoko, who was born in the Ivorian town of Daloa in July 1983, was in the Carlisle United side which faced Rovers in January 2011.
Zoumana Bakayogo, who was in the Tranmere Rovers side which opposed Rovers in September 2010 and played against the Gas three years prior that with Millwall, is an Ivory Coast Under-21 international, qualifying through his parentage, though he is Paris-born.
French-born of Ivorian descent, Dany N’Guessan played for Boston United at The Mem in October 2006.