18 June 2014

Cote d'Ivoire: Ivoirian Coach Plays Cards Close to Chest

Photo: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix
Yaya Toure evades a tackle from Carlos Sanchez of Colombia during their World Cup clash.

Cote d'Ivoire and Colombia both won their World Cup openers, which means a victory for either in their clash in Brasília on Thursday would result in almost certain qualification for the second round.


Cote d'Ivoire's victory over Japan in their opening fixture in Group C was a boost to their confidence not just for the three points, but also because they came from behind and dominated large parts of the game.

The downside of their performance was the number of chances they wasted, which will weigh heavily on the mind of coach Sabri Lamouchi as his team takes on Colombia, the top contenders in the pool.

The temptation will be to restore the ever-clinical Didier Drogba to the starting line-up. He's a player who provides less mobility than, say, Wilfried Bony, but who has a calmness in the opposing penalty box that was badly missing against the Japanese.

Lamouchi has played his cards close to his chest, perhaps more to keep the Colombians guessing than anything else, but says he understands the frustration of the Elephants' fans in wanting to see their talisman start.

Lamouchi also described the Colombians as close to the “complete” team, with their ability to attack from all areas, most noticeably the wings, and has cautioned his players that this will be a big step-up from Japan.

The coach also suggested his side would be a bit more physical and a bit keener in the tackle, not holding off as much as they did against their Asian opponents.

Colombia, who breezed past Greece in their opener, are also preparing for a sterner test and have already said they will not be trying to match the physicality of the Elephants.

Instead they will use their passing game to try to go around their opponents, as well as hang on to as much possession as possible.

Both sides could adopt the approach, starve your opponents of the ball and they cannot score, but one fancies that the Colombians will be the better exponent of the tactic.

This is a proper football team, no kick-and-rush stuff. They love to have the ball at their feet and Cote d'Ivoire's challenge will be to deny them the time and space in which to create opportunities.

It is easier said than done though.


James Rodríguez (Colombia) - Rodríguez is the man who pulls the strings behind the strikers and he will be key in unlocking the Ivorian defence. The Monaco man is both a creator and scorer of goals and in the absence of Radamel Falcao, is the chief attacking weapon for the South American side.

Yaya Toure (Cote d'Ivoire) - Winning the midfield battle and possession of the ball will be key in a game against a very attacking Colombia side. Yaya Toure is the kind of box-to-box midfielder who can be hugely effective in this game for the Elephants, defending their lines but also providing a threat at the other end of the pitch.


José Pékerman (Colombia coach) - "Colombia proved [against Greece] that we have many positive assets. We can play, we can create good opportunities and we can take them. All the players did what they were expected to do and that makes us very confident."

Sabri Lamouchi (Cote d'Ivoire coach) - "People love Didier Drogba and I know there are a lot of lovers of Drogba's style. But you have to understand the last time he played 90 minutes was a few months ago in Turkey. He's just recovered from injury. He made a lot of sacrifices to be here at the World Cup."


Date: Thursday, June 19

Kick-off: 16h00 (GMT)

Venue: Estádio Nacional Mané Garrincha, Brasília

Referee: Howard Webb (England)


This will be a first ever meeting between the two nations.

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