Ivory Coast defeats Japan 2 – 1 in the opening game of Group C, despite the team’s eminent loss.
Honda strikes a goal just right on the 16 – minute mark, leading the Japanese through a strong play during the first half of the game. However, they were unable to further increase their lead as Ivory Coast caught up on the second half.
Ivory Coast coach Sabri Lamouchi made a decisive move after taking off Drogba from the bench despite an injury. Lifting the team’s spirits, they pushed through the Japanese defenses and tied the game with Bony’s quick cross.
John Bennet of BBC World Service Report comments: “What a comeback by Ivory Coast. Head coach Sabri Lamouchi’s decision to keep Wilfried Bony on when he introduced substitute Didier Drogba looks inspired.””
Gervinho made a swift follow-up on Bony’s play, hitting a header just two minutes after they tied the game, bringing the score to a 2 – 1 just right on the 66 – minute mark.
The Japanese failed to penetrate through Ivory Coast’s defenses on the remaining minutes of the game, as Drogba’s entry lifted the team’s morale and deflected any chance of Japan to tie up the game.
Alberto Zaccheroni of Japan notes on BBC News: “We have to give credit to the Ivory Coast – they had a great game.” He further adds: “We did not put them under enough pressure. We were not aggressive enough. We could not play as we normally do, especially in the second half after conceding the two goals.
Ivory Coast now eyes Colombia, who recently dominated the Greeks, as its next opponent while Japan will face Greece on Thursday.