16 June 2014

Cote d'Ivoire: Aurier a Big Plus in Ivorian Win

Photo: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix
Ivorian right back Serge Aurier laid on both goals for his side in their match with Japan, perhaps signalling the emergence of a star among the new generation of Elephants players.

Cote d'Ivoire's 2-1 victory over Japan in their World Cup opener in the early hours of Sunday morning African time was pleasing for much more than the crucial three points.

In a victory that provides Africa with a first success at the 2014 finals, the Ivoirians showed great spirit and temperament to come from behind after conceding an early goal and show their quality in the second half.

It is that kind of fighting spirit that is vital if they are to progress deep into this tournament.

On top of that the performance of Toulouse right back Serge Aurier was a huge plus and perhaps signalled the emergence of a new star for this Elephants team that will very soon move into transition between its Golden Generation and the fresh faces who will have to replace them.

Aurier laid on both goals for the African side -- providing heading opportunities for Wilfried Bony and Gervinho -- and terrorized the Japanese with his rampaging runs.

"Today a young one had his say. Serge brought us energy and balance, and he had a fantastic game," veteran striker Didier Drogba said of his 21-year-old teammate. "He's the best right back in all of France. I think he'll do well at the next level too, in the Premier League."

Aurier has already been linked with Arsenal, but Drogba is more concerned with what he brings The Elephants.

"It's good to see we have a new generation coming through. This is what we need and it's good for our football. It gives us energy. It gives us spirit," Drogba says.

"We're trying to bring all the young ones up the right way, to bring them along in the spirit of this team."

For Aurier, the day could not have been more perfect and he will no doubt take confidence from his superb display.

"Setting up both goals, it's like a dream," Aurier says. "I can't believe it. It's my first World Cup, we're here in Brazil and I helped the team to win."

Those are the positives, and they were big, but there were also some disappointments on the day for the Ivorians.

They, and in particular Bony, missed far too many chances that at this level, and against a better team, would likely have seen them lose.

They are a side that creates opportunities because they have such attacking intent throughout their ranks, but unless they take them it counts for little.

Coach Sabri Lamouchi will also have to manage how he uses Drogba in this tournament, with the 36-year-old making it clear he was not pleased to be on the bench.

Perhaps he is being saved for harder tasks later on, but Lamouchi will know more than anyone that a sulking Drogba will lower the mood of the entire group.

There were also a few players who took knocks in the game and they will have to be assessed ahead of the Ivoirians' second match against Colombia on Thursday.

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