JOHANNESBURG (AFP) - Turkey-bound African football superstar Didier Drogba has backed the rotation system of coach Sabri Lamouchi after Ivory Coast won Group D at the African Nations Cup with a game to spare.
The perennial title favourites face Algeria at Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace on Wednesday with only pride at stake after contrasting victories over Togo and Tunisia.
Ivory Coast took 88 minutes to subdue stubborn Togo with Gervinho finishing off a free kick from fellow English Premier League star Yaya Toure, and Lamouchi responded by making four changes.
Out went veteran Manchester City defender Kolo Toure, midfielders Max Gradel and Didier Ya Konan and striker and skipper Drogba, 34, who says he is playing in the premier African football championship for the last time.
It was a bold move by Lyon-born coaching novice Lamouchi given the iconic status of Drogba, who moved to Chinese club Shanghai Shenhua last year from Chelsea.
But it worked spectacularly as the Elephants gave a much-improved performance and, after Gervinho struck midway through the opening half, late goals from Yaya Toure and Ya Konan wrapped up an impressive triumph.
Drogba, who signed an 18-month contract with Istanbul-based Galatasaray this week, said he had no problem starting the match on the bench, before being introduced during the second half to prolonged applause.
"There is no issue with me being benched - and do not try and make a big deal out of it," he said. "The coach picks the team and we respect his decisions."
"That also goes for the other 22 players in the squad. Why should it be an issue that I was benched? I am happy to see Ivory Coast winning - that is all that matters."