Goal.com predicts a cagey battle between two heavyweights in Group G...The first African battleship has been sunk. The Indomitable Lions of Cameroon have limped out of the World Cup with only one goal and no points to their name. Some of the continent's best talent, Samuel Eto'o, Achille Emana and Alexandre Song included, will be home before the postcards. Worringly, in a group that contained The Netherlands, it was the other two contenders for the runners-up spot that eliminated them. Japan and Denmark are by no means world beaters but they had too much, one way or another, for a poor Cameroon team.
South Africa, Nigeria and Algeria are all clinging to their World Cup credentials too and are almost certain to be eliminated before the end of the group stage. At the moment Ghana look reasonably set up for a knockout berth carrying the flag of the home continent. But they play Germany next in the true Group of Death. The Ghanaians are the only African team to have won a World Cup match so far, 1-0 against Serbia. One win in 11 matches; four draws; six defeats. That does not make for happy reading for the home continent.
Cote d'Ivoire face Brazil this evening and they dare not lose. With the Portuguese playing against a tenacious, yet limited, DPR Korea team tomorrow, les Elephants could struggle to emerge from their section too should they fail to take something from the South Americans.
Sven Goran Eriksson is a coach who errs on the side of caution at the best of times and will have learned a thing or two during North Korea's containment exercise last week. Brazil are a team that are more comfortable attacking on the counter than trying to break a side down methodically. The coach of the Ivory Coast has the players at his disposal to execute a game plan similar to that of the Asian team but with a good deal more firepower of his own at the business end.
Didier Drogba | A vital presence
There was nothing amiss with the west Africans' defensive tactics against Portugal, limiting Cristiano Ronaldo's time on the ball, isolating Danny and pressing the Europeans into surrendering possession high up the field but there needs to be an added ruthlessness from the forwards tonight. Gervinho, Salomon Kalou and Abdel Kader Keita all have the weaponary to disturb any defence on their day and need to prove it. However, the fitness of Didier Drogba remains a concern. When the Chelsea forward has an off-night so do les Elephants. It is vital that, in a game that is likely to see Brazil dominate the possession, Cote d'Ivoire make efficient use of the ball when they have it and give it to Drogba quickly.
And if fitness is the concern for Didier Drogba his opposite number, Luis Fabiano, is struggling for form. He has not scored for Brazil in six caps and those games should have provided the international football equivalent of fish in a barrel. Aside from England, Brazil faced Venezula, Oman, Zimbabwe, Tanzania and North Korea and yet O Fabuloso drew blanks. Dunga has vowed to stand alongside his number nine, although the five-time winners have goals in abundance elswhere in the team and, potentially, on the bench. Kolo Toure's Manchester City team-mate, Robinho, also has the ability to conjure goals for team-mates.
Luis Fabiano | Lacking goals
One of Brazil's most potent attacking avenues is the right flank, with the playmaking abilities of Elano perfectly complemented by the tireless running of Maicon. Cote d'Ivoire have had problems on their left side with Siaka Tiene coming in for Arthur Boka in recent months. The Valenciennes defender will need to be at his concentrated best in order to put up a roadblock in the face of the rampaging Inter man.
With forwards scrabbling for form and battling for fitness, and more riding on a defeat than a win, a once-potentially explosive fixture could be extinguished before it starts. Should Brazil move onto four points then they can be reasonably confident of limiting a Portugal side they beat 6-2 in November 2008 on the final matchday. Ivory Coast cannot afford to lose and have already shown a propensity to 'sit in' rather than attack so far at World Cup 2010.
It seems likely that we will witness a stand-off more than a showdown, but with the players on show we could be provided with moments of entertainment.
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