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Saturday, June 19, 2010
Drogba could start against Brazil

Soccernet staff

Ivory Coast coach Sven-Goran Eriksson has hinted star striker Didier Drogba could start against Brazil in their Group G clash on Sunday.

• Preview: Samba magic, African hope

Drogba broke his arm in a World Cup warm-up match against Japan but he made a miraculous recovery to feature off the bench in Ivory Coast's opener against Portugal while wearing a special FIFA-approved protective cast.

Premier League top-scorer Drogba wasn't his usual bustling self in that match and he missed a late chance to break the 0-0 deadlock, but his talismanic status in the Ivory Coast team means his inclusion against Brazil would surely lift the African side's chances of springing an upset at Soccer City.

"It wouldn't be surprising if Drogba plays from the start against Brazil," said Eriksson. "He came on for 25 minutes against Portugal and it went well. It is going to be a difficult game, but looking at what we did against Portugal, we are capable of creating a surprise."

Drogba's Ivory Coast and Chelsea side-kick Salomon Kalou said his team may need to curb their natural attacking instincts and take a leaf out of North Korea's book to stifle the Brazilians, in what should be one of the more fascinating tactical battles in the tournament so far.

Kalou said: "North Korea defended really well and annoyed Brazil, they serve as a good example. We have the players who can make a difference, our strength will always be in attack, but we must focus on defence. When you play against a team that is stronger than you, one has to stop them from playing, and afterwards to play on ones strengths: For us it is technique and catching them on the counter-attack. We must on no account allow Brazil to play their natural game."

Brazil coach Dunga has created a team that is at its most effective and punishing when absorbing pressure and breaking quickly, a strategy that could come in handy in the later stages of the tournament should Brazil progress. They struggled to break down a North Korea side more content to sit deep in their own half, but striker Robinho hopes Ivory Coast don't heed Kalou's warning and instead leave some holes to exploit on the break.

"We don't think Ivory Coast will come out defending so much," Robinho said. "It's a very tough challenge when the other team is only trying to defend, it becomes very complicated for us."

Playmaker Kaká should be the attacking key to unlock a crowded defence, yet he looked out of sorts against the Asian side after an up-and-down, injury effected season with Real Madrid. Robinho is backing Kaka to come good as soon as Sunday: "When Kaká plays well he can decide any game. He is very important to us."

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