Preview: Netherlands v Ivory Coast

The Ivory Coast face the daunting challenge of needing to defeat an in form Dutch side to keep their hopes of the last 16 alive.

    Elephants at play: Ivory Coast players ahead of the Dutch clash

    The Elephants were gallant in defeat against Argentina, a game rated as one of the best of the tournament so far.

    However despite the entertainment value, the Africans were left with nothing after the game and Coach Henri Michel is pragmatic.

    "I believe we paid for our inexperience at this level," said the Frenchman.
      
    "Now we need a big performance against the Dutch and a good result. That is what we are going to address ourselves to.

    "We have to work on our strengths and weaknesses and while we are in a less comfortable situation (after the Argentina loss), I still say we can beat the Dutch."

    The focal point of the match plan will again be Chelsea striker Didier Drogba.

    The influential front man was outstanding in his side’s opening game, scoring a goal and working tirelessly throughout the match.

    Ruud van Nistelrooy (l) and Arjen
    Robben at Netherlands training

    The Dutch defenders will have their hands full again, a fact not lost on Dutch coach Marco Van Basten.

    "We know he's a very good player, very strong. And technically he can make goals,” he said.

    The Dutch go into the game knowing that a win will almost certainly book them into the round of 16 and Barcelona defender Giovanni van Bronckhorst was aware of the luxury.

    "For our next game against Ivory Coast, if we win that we are almost in the second round. We want to qualify as soon as possible, and don't want to have to go into the third game having to secure a win."

    The Dutch side was relieved earlier this week to find that experienced keeper Edwin van der Sar had recovered from a calf strain suffered against Serbia and Montenegro and will be fit to start.

    Also in line for a call up is Hamburg midfielder Rafael van der Vaart who van Basten may select over Wesley Sneijder should he decide to tinker with his side.

    The Elephants arrived at the World Cup with plenty of attention, but they’ll find their party over very quickly should they not come up with the goods in Stuttgart on Friday.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera + Agencies


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