Chelsea attacker Salomon Kalou has admitted pressure at World Cup 2010 has been to blame for Ivory Coast's poor tournament.
Sven-Goran Eriksson's side look set to crash out of Group G unless they can turn around a nine-goal disadvantage to Portugal in today's fixtures. The Elephants were hotly-tipped before the tournament, but a disappointing 3-1 defeat to Brazil has condemned them to an early flight home and they will need a miracle against North Korea.
Speaking to reporters, Kalou blamed high expectations as the cause for the squad's flop.
"Expectations were huge and we owed it to ourselves to perform well. But the pressure has caused us more stress than anything and even inhibited our talents," Kalou said.
"All of us have put lots of pressure on ourselves because this World Cup is being played on our continent.
"There have been a few players who haven't been up to the standard required. Their abilities have been crushed by the pressure they've put on their own shoulders."