Côte d’Ivoire thrash North Korea and quit

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The Elephants from Côte d’Ivoire have saved their honour. Facing an overwhelmed North Korean team, Sven Goran Eriksson’s boys only scored 3 goals. And their effort is not sufficient enough to usher them into the second round of the tournament. After a tensed draw between Portugal and Brazil, it is obvious that the Elephants could not have counted on a Portuguese defeat.

The Ivorian miracle failed to materialise this Friday in Nelspruit. The elephants were expected to thrash the North Korean mercilessly to obtain their ticket for the second round of the World Cup. They did, but a tie between the Lusophone cousins, Brazil and Portugal, robbed Sven Goran Eriksson’s men of any eventual qualification.

There is not much to regret about the Ivorian-North Korea encounter, that is, if the number of missed opportunities are overlooked. The Ivorians had over twenty good goal opportunities only to hit three home. With 70% ball possession, the Africans could have almost grabbed their ticket to the next round. If only the North Koreans had had the heart to forget the painful 7 goals to nothing inflicted on them by Portugal.

To salvage the team’s image, Kim Jong-Hun, their coach, invented a destructive tactic. His five man defense and four midfielders posed some problems for the Elephants who had to exercise patience for a quarter of an hour before discovering their loophole.

Côte d’Ivoire knock on wood

But before that, Didier Drogba saw his goal rejected (11th), as Keita (1st) and Gervinho’s shots (10th and 13th) went straight for the Chollimas’ woodwork. Fortunately, a determined Yaya Toure opened the scoreline with an unstoppable shot from the edge of the box. 1-0 for the Elephants.

A few minutes later, a sulking Romaric whose shot hit the woodwork (17th) is rewarded for his efforts as a wayward ball from Drogba nonchalantly curls into his trajectory from the woodwork. Romaric taps the ball into the waiting net (20th).

Two goals in twenty minutes, things were looking good for the Ivorians, who needed seven goals to catch up with the Portuguese.

The Chollimas (the North Korean team’s nickname — taken from a mythological indomitable horse due to its high speed), failing to live up to their nickname, simply contented themselves with a freekick against the Elephants. Opportunities multiply, and Keita misses the net (32nd) while Gervinho (38th) plays romance with the woodwork.

A motivated Drogba

Didier Drogba’s teammates are ready for the kill, but a little too rough in the second half. Too eager to score, the Elephants amass uncountable errors.

And although errors don’t pay, Eboue (52), Gervinho (64), Romaric (66th) and Kalu (73) seem to want to prove the contrary. Kalou (83) adds a third goal but it is a little too late. A tactical match between the Portuguese and Brazilians fail to produce any goals (0-0).

Côte d’Ivoire saves its name with a final victory, they go home, nonetheless, just like in 2006.

2010 World Cup  South Africa's preparation to host the games on African soil for the first time but also individual African countries' determination to take part in the historic event. Five African countries - Cameroon, Nigeria, Algeria, South Africa and Ghana - are selected to join twenty seven teams from around the world to battle it out on the football pitch for the gold trophy. One by one, the African teams are eliminated, but Africans will not be bogged down as they rally behind their compatriots on the wings of the vuvuzela, a far cry from the near diplomatic row between Algeria and Egypt during the qualifiers. Ghana are the last team to leave but not before African unity becomes reality...
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