Ivory Coast coach Sabri Lamouchi believes his side can lift the spirits of the nation if they can overcome Greece to progress to the last 16 of the World Cup on Tuesday afternoon.
The African side head into the game lying second in Group C and need three points to secure their place in the knockout stages.
But while the side has been enjoying success in Brazil, at home there have been troubles, including flooding, while personal tragedy has struck Yaya and Kolo Toure as they lost their brother Ibrahim to cancer just a few days ago.
“Obviously what happened to the brother is a tragedy all of us, and I would like to send our condolences to the family,” Lamouchi said. “Obviously there are events in the Ivory Coast right now - there have been a lot of floods - and we are really concerned. This is not a good situation to play a match. With tomorrow’s match, we can send a positive message.”
The coach, meanwhile, believes he has never seen his team so determined to win.
“It’s a decisive match tomorrow,” he stated. “I have 23 Ivorians and they all want to make history, whoever happens to be on the pitch. We’ve been working together for 40 days and we’ve been preparing for two years and I’ve never seen them work so hard. They’ve handled themselves as great professionals because this match is important to Ivory Coast.”
Lamouchi would not be drawn on whether Didier Drogba might feature from the outset, however he admitted he was pleased with Gervinho’s contribution in the competition so far, even if he was not keen to single out the Roma winger for praise.
“Gervinho has played two wonderful matches – he is able to make the difference,” he explained. “But I can’t single out one single player; he’s part of the team. His match against Japan was formidable and he was excellent against Colombia.”
Any win for Cote d'Ivoire at Fortaleza's Estadio Castelao will see them through to the last 16, but a draw or defeat would leave them vulnerable to Japan, who must beat Colombia to have a chance of progression.