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One of the glamor ties of the group stage turns out to be a great disappointment.

Portugal and the Didier Drogba-less Cote d'Ivoire played out a dull as ditchwater scoreless draw in their World Cup Group G encounter.

If any further evidence was needed that despite a plethora of world class talent, the sight of two well drilled and organised sides led by pragmatic coaches does not provide for the kind of spectacle the South Africans had been expecting since being awarded the tournament. The distinct lack of action on the pitch was in sharp contrast to the intense anticipation that had surrounded the game off it.

A continent held its breath before receiving the unfortunate but admittedly inevitable news that Cote d'Ivoire's captain and talisman Didier Drogba would only be fit enough to sit on the bench. However despite the setback, the Ivorians began confidently and looked composed on the ball. 

Much attention was fixed on the world's most expensive player Cristiano Ronaldo after a disappointing Euro 2008. He showed both sides to his character in the first half, getting Didier Zokora a yellow card with a dive then a magnificent right foot thunderbolt which cannoned against the post much to the relief of the helpless Boubacar Barry in goal. Ironically, Ronaldo was later booked when Demel did appear to fell the former Manchester United attacker.

Thereafter the match threatened to descend into a rather ill-tempered affair with a number of rash challenges on both sides. Clear cut chances were few and far between as both sides lacked fluency. Ronaldo aside, all Portugal could muster were a couple of through balls which managed to elude Danny and Lièdson respectively.

The West Africans had a half-chance when Twente's Cheik Tioté broke through midfield however he failed to test Eduardo in the Portuguese goal. There was another sign of enouragement when Gervinho fortuitously squeezed between Pedro Mendes and Ricardo Carvalho however Paolo Ferreira came across to avert the danger.

In the second period, Gervinho flashed a shot across goal from a tight angle which won a corner as the Ivory Coast tried to start the first half on the front foot. It was Gervinho again who dinked a cross into the centre looking for Dindane who couldn't reach the ball despite flinging himself in its direction. 

With no breakthrough  forthcoming, Sven Goran Eriksson decided to lift the spirits of the crowd and hopefully his side with the introduction of Didier Drogba midway through the second half. However his introduction failed to have the desired impact and the game petered out to a tame draw in one of the games to forget so far in this tournament.  Drogba had a chance to give his side an undeserved win in stoppage time however he was only able to force the ball across goal where no teammate was waiting.

World Cup favourites Brazil are awaiting both these sides, they will need to show more urgency in the second period if they are to gain the upper hand in terms of qualification for the last sixteen. 

Who has the best chance of winning the World Cup? Check out Castrol Football's 2010 FIFA World Cup Winner Predictor.

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