Japan v Ivory Coast: Group C preview

Man United midfielder Shinji Kagawa wants the Asian champions to show the world their ability against Ivory Coast.

    Shinji Kagawa is Japan's key player and wants his team to showcase their ability in Brazil [Reuters]
    Shinji Kagawa is Japan's key player and wants his team to showcase their ability in Brazil [Reuters]

    Japan won a record fourth Asian Cup in Qatar three years ago and were the first side to qualify for this year's finals last June when they reached a fifth successive World Cup since making their debut appearance in 1998.

    Alberto Zaccheroni's men are confident of improving on their last-16 exit to Paraguay in South Africa four years ago as captain Makoto Hasebe returns to the fray.

    Shinji Kagawa is the Blue Samurai's star player and has come out in the press this week willing his team to show the world how good their team are.

    Ivory Coast midfielder and three-times African player of the year Yaya Toure is struggling to shake off a hamstring injury he picked up in April playing for Manchester City's title-winning team. The absence of his leadership will be a huge blow to the team.

    The Africans warmed-up for Brazil with a 2-1 loss to Bosnia, but  a victory over El Salvador by the same score.

    With Columbia tipped to win the group and Greece to struggle, this game could be the decider as to who qualifies with the South Americans.


    Match facts
    • Japan have won two of their three previous meetings with the Ivory Coast
    • Didier Drogba is the Ivory Coast's record goalscorer with 63 goals in 101 games
    • The Japanese are unbeaten in their previous six matches, winning the last five

    Venue: Arena Pernambuco, Recife

    Kick-off: 04:00 (Sunday 15 June)

    Possible teams: 

    Ivory Coast (4-3-3): Barry; Aurier, K Touré, Zokora, Boka; Tioté, Y Touré, Serey Die; Kalou, Drogba, Gervinho. 

    Japan (4-2-3-1): Kawashima; Uchida, Yoshida, Konno, Nagatomo; Hasebe, Endo; Okazaki, Honda, Kagawa; Kakitani. 

    Referee: Enrique Osses (Chile).

    SOURCE: Reuters


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