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 Posted by Sam Crocker
Jun 15, 2014

Aurier the real deal in Ivory Coast win

Not long after the entrance of Ivory Coast veteran Didier Drogba, The Elephants came roaring back to a 2-1 victory over Japan.

Ivory Coast's 2-1 win over Japan has provided them with an excellent chance of making it out of Group C, acting as a trampoline for Les Elephants to peer over the wall and get a glimpse of the second round on the other side.

Here are three things we learned.

Serge Aurier - believe the hype

With the amount of interest that surrounded right-back Aurier before this tournament, you would understand if the 21-year-old didn't quite reach the mind-blowing levels of excellence expected of him. After all, he is just a right-back.

In fact, he showed he was not just a right-back, as his two perfectly placed crosses provided the goals that his side so desperately needed.

Tenacious and powerful down that right side, Aurier really came alive when Sabri Lamouchi used Serey Die as a third centre-back, allowing his teammate to become the devastating force he has so often been for Toulouse this season.

Both crosses for the two goals were sublime, executed with a level of technique that many right-backs do not develop until at least their mid-twenties. The only negative was his role in the Japan goal, ignoring the free Keisuke Honda on the edge of the area to seemingly mark nobody in particular.

But this should not be too much of a mark on his performance; his never-ceasing willingness to get stuck in and join up with the attacks was a true joy to behold.

No tactical dallying from Lamouchi

In many ways, the measure of a coach is not just knowing that they have to change things but also being willing to do so -- and Lamouchi very much stepped up to the plate in this regard.

Dropping Serey Die in as the third centre-back freed up Aurier and Artur Boka as wing-backs to truly stretch their legs and stretch the Japanese defence as well. It was a risky move considering the lack of desire for defending Les Elephants have demonstrated recently but Lamouchi went for it and that bodes well. On another day, this might not have worked as Japan failed to take advantage of a fairly obvious deficiency in the Ivorian armour, especially when they have so many players that could be used on the counter attack.

But for a manager who many in Ivory Coast are sceptical of, an awareness of the need to win this match and make the necessary changes to do so will have gone some way in changing the minds of the doubters.

Defying the "bottlers" stereotype

One does not need to count the number of times this team has been in touching distance of glory and let it slip, so the way they came from behind is admirable and should do a lot to strengthen confidence.

A lot was made of Didier Drogba's introduction shortly before the two goals were scored and his presence certainly made a difference. Clearly unsettling the Japan defenders with his presence, Drogba once again proved what an incredible aura and influence he has over this team.

While one can certainly make too much of it Drogba's role -- and it is a very easy line for pundits to take when explaining what changed the match -- you can see why his touted role as a "supersub" is what it is.

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