Ivory Coast will be looking to build on Ghana’s momentum tomorrow when they take on 2006 semi finalists Portugal in Port Elizabeth’s Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium at 14oohrs GMT. The Ivorian camp however is in a race against time to have their inspirational striker and captain Didier Drogba fit for the match.
Making only their second appearance in a world cup final, the Elephants are the continent’s best hope and they will be looking to cement that distinction by beating the Portuguese convincingly.
Exuding confidence ahead of the match, Portugal’s star forward Cristiano Ronaldo is wishing Drogba a quick recovery so that in the event of a win, (which he is obviously expecting), the Ivorians will not be tempted to blame it on the absence of their perennial hit-man.
Drogba is the Ivory Coast’s most iconic player however, he is not their only player. Focusing too much on Drogba could blind the Seleccao to potential threats from Gervinho, Kalou, Dindane and Kone. Over confidence could however be Portugal’s major undoing.
Portugal’s only significant friendly win ahead of this encounter was a 3-1 thrashing of Cameroon’s Indomitable Lions, whereas their opponents Ivory Coast drew 2-2 with Paraguay before seeing off Japan 2-0.
Now judging by these results, you would think that the Ivory Coast are favourites to win to this match right? Wrong! the odds are in favour of Portugal and don’t ask me why because i am just as shocked as you are.
I am not saying that the Elephants will trample over Portugal, no.I expect this match to be end to end action much like Ghana’s game. I mean with the likes of Simao, Deco, Pepe and Liedson, you would have to be crazy not to expect a strong challenge from the Portuguese.
In my opinion, the key players to keep an eye on are Gervinho for Ivory Coast and of course Ronaldo for Portugal. It will be interesting to see if the Real Madrid star can replicate his club form for his country.
My prediction is therefore a 2-2 draw, however with the fans behind Ivory Coast, i won’t be surprised if the Elephants eke out a slender margin win.
Photo credit: from umusoto