Like the Olympic Games, the World Cup allows athletes from all over the world to represent their homelands on a global stage. And like the Olympics, it occurs every four years, so players do not know if they’ll be back to play in the World Cup again. The honor to represent a country can be overwhelming for some players.
Before Ivory Coast played Colombia for the top spot in Group C, Ivory Coast defensive midfielder Serey Die broke into tears while his country’s national anthem played.
Die explained to reporters that the outburst was a result of his emotional personality as well as playing for his home country.
“I didn’t think that one day I would be here, playing,” Die said.
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The 29 year old has played in seven matches for Ivory Coast, including the two played in the 2014 World Cup. Ivory Coast won their first match against Japan, but fell to Colombia 2-1 in their second match.
With every World Cup, national teams hope to build on their legacy. Many teams, like Italy, Brazil, and Argentina, have been regular participants in the World Cup since the inaugural tournament in 1930.
However, Ivory Coast is only making their third appearance in the World Cup. The first two came in 2006 and 2010, where Ivory Coast failed to make it out of group play both times.
Now, Ivory Coast is on the cusp of qualifying for the Round of 16 for the first time in team history. With a win against Greece on June 24, Ivory Coast would be second in points in their group. Ivory Coast can also advance with a tie against Greece and a Japan loss to group leader Colombia.
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This Ivory Coast side advancing would mark the eighth time an African nation advances to the second round of the World Cup.
Although Die’s emotions may overtake him before Ivory Coast’s next match, he knows what the win would mean to him and his home.