Group C: Colombia v Ivory Coast preview

A win for Ivory Coast versus Colombia could secure progress from its group for the first time at a World Cup.

Colombia won their opening game against Greece in Belo Horizonte with 3-0 [EPA]

Ivory Coast will play Colombia in the second round of fixtures in Group C in Brazil’s capital Brasilia on Thursday.

The West Africans will be without forward Didier Ya Konan for the clash because of a knee injury, coach Sabri Lamouchi said.

Ya Konan came on as a substitute for the final quarter of an hour of Saturday’s 2-1 comeback win against Japan in Recife and Lamouchi said he was hopeful the 30-year-old would be fit for Ivory Coast’s final group game against Greece on Tuesday.

“Tomorrow, no. I have said that unfortunately tomorrow he will be indisposed, because we absolutely don’t want to take any risks. We hope he will recover as early as the match against Greece, and if things go well, perhaps we will have one more chance to see Ya Konan on the pitch if the Ivory Coast go a bit further,” Lamouchi told a news conference on Wednesday.

Lamouchi was predictably bombarded with questions about whether the African side’s talisman, Didier Drogba, would make a return to the starting lineup after he was left on the bench until the 62nd minute against Japan.

Two minutes after the 38-year-old entered the fray Ivory Coast levelled through Wilfried Bony and Gervinho struck the winner a further two minutes later.

“Didier knows how important he is to us, and we know how important it is for him to know that the team needs him. We are faced with totally…. Of course he might be disappointed not to be starting but believe me he is showing in his daily work that he, like every member of the Ivory Coast delegation, wants to make it and advance to the second round,” he said.

Colombia also won their opening game, a 3-0 success against Greece in Belo Horizonte, and Lamouchi said he expected a tougher test and a different challenge against the South Americans than the Japan game.

“Yes we won, and I think this victory was totally deserved, but you should underline that our adversary was different in every way, and I think that it will be much more complicated for us than it was against the Japanese, and we need to win more duels than we had against Japan, and we need to make fewer technical mistakes than we made against Japan, and we need to be very concentrated and careful from the start,” he said.

Thursday’s game against Colombia will be only the eighth World Cup finals match in Ivory Coast’s history.

Venue: Estadio Nacional, Brasilia

Kick-off: June 18, 1600GMT

Key stats: This is the battle over who will end on top in Group C.

A win for Ivory Coast versus Colombia could secure progress from its group for the first time at a World Cup.

Colombia also won its first game, beating Greece 3-0, and will be playing Ivory Coast for the first time.

Referee for this game will be Howard Webb from the UK.

Source: Reuters