23 June 2014

Cote d'Ivoire Prepare to Face Greece

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

The moment has arrived for Cote d'Ivoire's Golden Generation to prove their worth as they prepare to face Greece in their final Group C game at the World Cup on Tuesday.

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

OVERVIEW

Victory for the Ivorians would seal a place in the second round for the first time in the country's history, while a point may also be enough if Japan don't beat Colombia.

The cards are stacked in their favour, but this Elephants side has stumbled at the vital moment before and carry with them the scars of failure.

Given their form, and that of their opponents, it would be a major surprise were they to come unstuck against the Greeks though, a team with a truly appalling finals record and who have looked mediocre in Brazil.

Greece have only ever scored two goals at the finals in their history, both coming against Nigeria in 2010, having been held scoreless in their other seven matches.

Added to that, they have only ever kept one clean-sheet in those eight previous games, against Japan last time out. It is a record that suggest they should find it difficult to contain the powerful and skillful Ivorians, who have yet to reach their peak in this tournament, but done enough to put themselves into a favourable position.

They have been struck by two tragedies so far while in Brazil, though the players have been quick to say they are prepared to fight on.

First midfielder Serey Die learned of the passing of his father just hours before their 2-1 loss to Colombia. He played the game but was in a flood of tears at the anthems and had to be consoled by teammates.

And then over the weekend the younger brother of Kolo and Yaya Toure passed away after a battle with cancer, the 28-year-old finally succumbing to the disease.

The team appear to have been managing the injury to Yaya Toure well through the competition and have no fresh concerns going into this game.

Greece will be without suspended veteran Kostas Katsouranis though, after he received his marching orders in the stalemate against Japan.

KEY PLAYERS

Georgios Samaras (Greece) - Greece have yet to find the back of the net at the World Cup and if they are to have any chance of winning against Cote d'Ivoire need to find more potency. Big striker Samaras is expert in the number nine role, holding up the play and bringing others into the game, which will be key to their chances against the physical Ivorians.

Sol Bamba (Cote d'Ivoire) - Defensive organization has not always been a strong point of Cote d'Ivoire, but in a game where a draw should be good enough for the African side, it will be key. Enter experienced Bamba as a leader of the back four and the man with just the wits to hold things together.

WHAT THEY SAY

Kostas Mitroglou (Greece striker) - "With the hard work we've been putting in and a little luck, the goals will come. They have excellent players like [Didier] Drogba and (Yaya) Toure. But we have to look at what we are doing. The task is simple. We have to win."

Sabri Lamouchi (Cote d'Ivoire coach) - "We will need to go and fight to get a victory against Greece, it is very simple. I do not see any other way to qualify. [Against Colombia] We created some chances and came back to score, so I feel we lost unfairly. My players did not deserve to lose, a draw would have been more deserved."

MATCH FACTS

Date: Tuesday, June 24

Kick-off: 20h00 (GMT)

Venue: Estádio Castelão, Fortaleza

Referee:Carlos Vera (Ecuador)

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