More disappointments for Africa

2010-06-21 00:00

THE disappointing results kept rolling in for African teams as Ivory Coast found themselves at the wrong end of a 3-1 victory to Brazil that was at times controversial in their Group G match at Soccer City last night.

What a day for the World Cup — New Zealand drawing with Italy, the ructions in the France camp, and one of the tournament’s leading players, Kaka, red-carded.

Last night’s event-filled match saw scuffles and bad-tempered scenes in its last 10 minutes. After being booked for a push two minutes earlier, Kaka emerged as the player to earn a second yellow card when the pitch broke out in scuffles in the 86th minute.

Brazil confirmed that, in the image of their coach, Dunga, they will be first and foremost brutal organisation and efficiency, though blessed with more than enough creativity to unlock defences.

While Dunga’s Selecao may not be everybody’s cup of Mocha coffee, Sven Göran Eriksson’s Ivory Coast have about as much flavour as a mug of your cheap local supermarket brand.

While the Swede has certainly sorted out the Africans’ organisation, seemingly it has come at a cost of much of the flair of a team blessed with its share of some of Africa’s most exciting attacking players, not least Didier Drogba.

It was a tense start to one of the most important matches of the World Cup so far. For Africa, perhaps of double importance.

There have been mixed fortunes for the six teams from the continent — Cameroon exiting, South Africa and Nigeria faltering and Algeria and Ghana impressing.

This has largely put the onus on Africa’s strongest team on paper, Ivory Coast, to produce the goods in the World Cup. The Elephants, though, have been drawn in the Group of Death along with Portugal and the Brazilians, from which they started with a more than decent 0-0 draw against the former.

Tournament favourites Brazil began with a 2-1 win over Korea DPR, with the lowest-ranked team in the tournament producing a surprisingly plucky and organised performance to contain the Selecao.

In a cagey first half that reflected the status of the game, Brazil produced the only real chance and with brutal efficiency that has been a mark of the team under coach Dunga.

Probing on the edge of the area, playmaker Kaka slipped his pass through to the explosive Fabiano on the right, who slammed the ball past Ivorian goalkeeper Boubacar Barry from a tight angle in the 25th minute.

Earlier Robinho had produced the first shot in anger; from 30 metres, and well over the bar.

Ivory Coast’s best opportunity of their uninspiring first 45 minutes was when right-back Guy Demel’s low cross found forward Aruna Dindane in the 38th minute, but the striker’s shot struck a Brazil defender.

The Selecao made it 2-0 five minutes into the first half with a goal from Fabiano that might have been considered of classic Brazil pedigree, had it not involved a handball.

Fabiano chipped to get past one player then another before using his forearm to bring the ball down and blast past Barry.

In the 62nd minute it was 3-0, Kaka making ground to the left byline and cutting back to Elano, who got ahead of the defence to finish.

Ivory Coast did finally show some fight, though too late.

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