Ivory Coast’s World Cup prepartions were today dealt a fatal blow when Didier Drogba was ruled out of the campaign with a suspected fractured elbow, sustaining the injury in a World Cup friendly against Japan.
The injury occured when the Chelsea striker collided with Japanese defender Marcus Tulio Tanaka and fell heavily on his arm, just after he had put the Ivorians 1-0 up with a free-kick in the 15th minute. Drogba was immediately taken to hospital in Sion, Switzerland, where the Ivorians have been undergoing altitude training.
“Of course I am worried, he’s our captain and one of the best players in the world. It was unlucky, he didn’t want to hurt anyone. Football is a game of contact.”
– Sven Goran Eriksson, Ivory Coast coach
The injury will be a crippling blow to the African’s hopes of making a sustained challenge in South Africa – in a group that includes Brazil, Portugal and North Korea. Ivory Coast, which boasts talent such as Yaya Toure, Salomon Kalou and Gervinho, were said to be the strongest African sides in the competition and the favourite out of their continental counterparts to go all the way.
Oddly, Drogba is the fourth Chelsea player to be ruled out of the World Cup this summer, and the second of which from an African team. Germany’s Michael Ballack was ruled out after an injury in the FA Cup, Portugal’s Jose Boswinga has been hampered with injury over the last two seasons while Ghana’s Michael Essien was ruled out with a knee injury at the end of his domestic season.
So where does this see Ivory Coast’s World Cup? They kick-off their campaign on the 15th of June against Portugal, before facing Brazil five days later then meeting North Korea on the 25th of June in their final group game.
Drogba will most likely be replaced in the starting line-up by Aruna Dindane, who played with doomed Portsmouth last season scoring eight goals before making the switch to a Qatar side last May. He’ll be sided with Drogba’s Chelsea teammate Salomon Kal0u on the left, and Lille forward Gervinho on the right.
Ivory Coast won’t have to change their 4-3-3 system luckily, which takes a defensive minded approach in midfield but the dynamism of their original front three pairing balanced their style. Of course, Dindane will find it a monumental task to fill the boots of his robust, powerful and highly talented teammate, while fans may feel Ivory Coast won’t have enough in back-up to make up for what Drogba brings to the side.