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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Jun 22, 2006

Dindane sacrificed hat-trick for friendship

Ivory Coast's two-goal hero Aruna Dindane passed up the chance to get the first hat-trick of the 2006 World Cup - and put it all down to friendship.

Dindane was the man-of-the-match in a thrilling Group C match with Serbia and Montenegro - even if both teams had been already eliminated before the kick-off.

But he could have taken away the match ball as well as the silver tankard awarded to the FIFA player of the match if he had been so inclined.

Dindane's two goals - the first coming from the penalty spot before half-time - hauled the Ivory Coast level after Nikola Zigic and then Sasa Ilic had given the Serbo-Montenegrins the lead.

Then after 86 minutes the Ivory Coast were awarded another spot-kick - like the first, for a handball by Milan Dudic.

However, instead of stepping forward, Dindane allowed substitute Bonaventure Kalou to convert the winning kick.

Dindane, who is aged 26, said: 'I think my friend wanted to score.

'We are a team and we are all friends and that's the way it is with us.

'The group of players is much more important than individuals and he wanted to take it so it was right to let him have a go.'

The match in Munich in front of 66,000 fans was a thriller, with both teams perhaps liberated by the fact that Holland and Argentina had already qualified for the next phase.

In the end it was the Ivory Coast who registered their first ever win at a World Cup in what is their maiden appearance in the world's biggest tournament.

Coach Henri Michel, who announced he will leave the post to take a job with an unspecified club in Qatar, was frustrated that the sometimes thrilling football played by the Elephants failed to get them through to the last 16.

Ivory Coast played exciting football but lost 2-1 to both Argentina and the Dutch and were thus eliminated before taking on the Serbo-Montenegrins.

'My goal was to qualify the Ivory Coast for the World Cup for the first time and I achieved it,' said Michel, who was coaching in his fourth World Cup after previous stints with France (1986), Cameroon (1994) and Morocco (1998).

'But now I think it's important that we improve and that will mean more work with the players.

'For the first time we have played some really major nations instead of the big Africans, not just here but teams like France, Italy, Spain, Slovenia, the Swiss (in friendlies).

'Let's say I was satisfied because we won our first match, and that required a lot of effort, but we still ran up against the same problems,' said Michel.

'Again we conceded two goals in 20 minutes which made things very complicated for us. It's a weakness in the team and we always have to create a lot of chances to score one or two goals.

'At this level that's not good enough and if the Ivory Coast wants to be competitive at this level we must sort out this sort of problem.'