The trouble with golden generations, whether they be from England, Portugal or now Germany, is that they do not tend to end up with silverware. The rule has applied to Ivory Coast. Favourites to win the last five Africa Cup of Nations, they ended up with nothing.
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For most of Sabri Lamouchi’s side this will be their final fling and, a goal down to Japan in their first group game, it seemed like this World Cup would end up like the last two with The Elephants failing to get out of their group.
However, a second-half recovery, inspired by Didier Drogba, gave them a 2-1 win in Recife and a win in Brasilia, against Colombia, would see them through to the knockout phase for the first time.
Despite his performance against Japan, the 36-year-old Drogba is unlikely to displace Wilfried Bony from Ivory Coast’s starting line-up in Brasilia. “People love Drogba,” said Lamouchi. “But people have to understand that the last time he played 90 minutes was a few months ago, against Turkey. He has been injured and made a lot of sacrifices to be at this World Cup.”
Nevertheless with Ivory Coast still likely to start with Yaya Toure, Salomon Kalou, Bony and Gervinho, Lamouchi has rather more attacking options that his opposite number, Jose Pekerman.
Against the Greeks, his side coped well without Radamel Falcao, whose absence from Brazil was supposed to sound the death-knell for Colombia in this World Cup and now he will be forced to do without another striker, Carlos Bacca, who has broken down with a knee injury.
Only once have Colombia ever escaped a World Cup group and that was with three points in 1990. They were promptly knocked out by Cameroon after their goalkeeper, Rene Higuita dashed 40 yards from his line, tried to take the ball past Roger Milla, and suffered the predictable consequences. Against another African side, Pekerman would hope for more composure.Reuse content