Johannesburg: Brazil will face the Ivory
Coast tomorrow with a chance to reach the second round of the
World Cup with a game to spare in Group G.
A victory against the Ivory Coast will be enough for
Brazil to advance ahead of its last group match against
Portugal on June 25. The Ivory Coast needs to beat Brazil to
get into a good position to move on, or at least hold the
five-time champions to a draw to keep its hopes alive before
playing North Korea in its final match.
"We gained confidence with the first victory and we need
another one now to guarantee a place in the next round,"
Brazil striker Nilmar said. "We can do it in advance, so we
need to try to go for it."
Brazil began the World Cup with a hard-fought 2-1 win
over the lowly ranked North Korea on Tuesday in Johannesburg,
while the Ivory Coast was held to a scoreless draw with
Portugal in Port Elizabeth.
"If we defend well, we should be able to get a good
result," Ivory Coast defender Emmanuel Eboue said. "(Brazil
is) a great team, everybody knows this, but this motivates us
and again we have to play at our best."
It was unclear whether Ivory Coast striker Didier Drogba
was going to start on Sunday at Soccer City Stadium, but coach
Sven-Goran Eriksson hinted the Chelsea striker could be in the
starting lineup. Drogba broke his right arm in a warmup ahead
of the World Cup, but he underwent surgery and came off the
bench to play more than 20 minutes against Portugal.
"Every player feels very, very well and we`ve got
confidence in ourselves," Eboue said. "If Drogba plays, it
will be very great for us."
The Brazilians are hoping Ivory Coast will not stay back
on defense from the start on Sunday, creating the same
problems that the defensive-minded North Korean caused in the
opener. Brazil struggled to come up with scoring opportunities
and needed second-half goals to earn the victory at Ellis
"Ivory Coast will come out playing more offensively and
that should give us some openings," Brazil goalkeeper Julio
Cesar said. "It`s harder for us if a team plays only thinking
about defending and not about attacking."
Brazil will reach six points with a victory, enough to
guarantee the team one of the two spots advancing from the
group. The Ivory Coast would not be eliminated with a loss,
but it would make it very hard for the African nation to
It will be the first match between Brazil and Ivory
Coast, but Brazil has played African nations five other times
in the World Cup, winning each time. The most recent was four
years ago, when the Brazilians defeated Ghana 3-0 in the round
of 16 in Germany before losing the quarterfinal to France.
"It will be a difficult game for us," Ivory Coast
midfielder Cheick Tiote said. "Brazil is very strong in attack
so we have to watch out for that. We will have to be
well-organized and attack when we can and when we have to."
Coach Dunga acknowledged that Brazil was below its best
against North Korea, but was expecting natural improvement.
"The tendency is for us to improve as we play more
matches," Brazil striker Robinho said. "Hopefully it will be
enough to give us the win against the Ivory Coast and a spot
in the next round."
Robinho could take over the playmaker`s role on Sunday if
Kaka continues to struggle to find his form after entering the
World Cup recovering from a series of injuries with Real
Kaka was far from his best in the match against North
Korea and was substituted in the 78th minute. If he doesn`t
play the entire match on Sunday, Robinho could move back to
Brazil should start with the same 11 from the start, as
should the Ivory Coast.
Brazil has played in all 19 World Cups so far, while the
Ivory Coast is playing only in its second. It failed to get
past the group stage four years ago in Germany.