World Cup 2014: Ivory Coast v Japan match preview

A look ahead to Sunday’s World Cup fixture at Arena Pernambuco

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The Independent Football

This is surely the last chance for Ivory Coast’s golden generation, who will be looking to get their campaign off to a winning start, but they come up against a talented Japan team who many are tipping to do well in Brazil.

Japan have won all of their last five matches, including a 3-2 victory over a good Belgium side, and they will be looking to carry this form into their group opener against the Ivory Coast. With a group of technically gifted players such as Keisuke Honda and Shinji Kagawa, and proven goal scorer Shinji Okazaki who has 38 international goals to his name, Japan have one of their most promising squads in recent times. Italian coach Alberto Zaccheroni has a good record since taking over as manager, and he will be confident that this exciting group of players can take away a good result from their opening match.

FIFA’s highest ranked African side will have something to say about this however, and they definitely have the players capable of performing on the biggest stage, with a squad packed full of stars from Europe’s top leagues. Despite this, Ivory Coast have never progressed from the group stages of the World Cup, and this is a record they will be looking to change in Brazil. A powerful team led by the former Chelsea man Didier Drogba and Manchester City’s player of the year Yaya Toure, this Ivory Coast team could prove too strong for the Japanese in what is sure to be an enthralling encounter between two exciting, attacking sides desperate to qualify from their group.

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Even though this side contains Manchester United playmaker Shinji Kagawa, Keisuke Honda is still the key man

 

KICK-OFF: Sunday, 2am

 

PAST THREE MEETINGS…

Japan 0 Ivory Coast 2, International Friendly, June 2010

Japan 1 Ivory Coast 0, International Friendly, May 2008

Japan 1 Ivory Coast 0, International Friendly, October 1993

 

STATS…

This fixture has never ended in a draw, with two wins for Japan and one win for Ivory Coast.

Japan’s Yasuhito Endo is the second most capped player in the World Cup with 144 international appearances.

Japan haven’t lost a match since October 2013.

Ivory Coast have three players with over 100 caps, Kolo Toure, Didier Zokora and Didier Drogba.

Ivory Coast have six players with fewer than five caps in their squad.

Ivory Coast have never won their opening World Cup game.

 

ODDS…

Ivory Coast to win: 2.63

Japan to win: 3.00

Draw: 3.10

 

TV: Live on ITV 1 at 2am

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