Didier Drogba takes on the Nigerian defence [AFP]
Didier Drogba believes Ivory Coast have done the hardest part in their bid to reach the knockout phase of the African Nations Cup with a 1-0 victory over Nigeria.

A second-half goal by Drogba's Chelsea team mate Salomon Kalou was enough for the Elephants to tame their chief rivals in Group B.

"It is an important victory because we won against our main rival for top spot in the group," the Ivory Coast captain said.

"Nigeria were the most dangerous team and I think the most important (thing) has been done."

Drogba, who was doubtful for the match having just recovered from injury, said his personal circumstances did not matter.

"Today, it's not about me, it's all about the team."

Stand-in coach Gerard Gili, who replaced Uli Stielike who left for family reasons, said Nigeria were a tough nut to crack.

"The players worked hard against a very solid team. Our tournament has started in the best possible way," the Frenchman said.

"Now we have to be as professional as we've been when we prepare the other games."

Ivory Coast next play Benin on Friday in Sekondi.

Nigeria coach Berti Vogts praised his team's efforts, saying they could hardly have done more.

"We have lost against the best team in Africa," the German said.

"But we will be back in the tournament. Two years ago, we lost the first game and we qualified for the knockout stage."

In 2006 in Egypt, the Super Eagles were also defeated 1-0 by Ivory Coast in the semi-finals.

Source: Agencies