Ivory Coast's so called 'Golden generation' went in to their crucial encounter with Greece knowing that they needed something from the game. However the phrase 'Golden generation' proved to be a tainted one, yet again, as Greece won 2-1 late in stoppage time and spoiled the African party.
The Ivorian's will have been inspired by the sad loss of Ibrahim Toure, brother of Kolo and Yaya. Both of whom elected to stay at the World Cup and represent their country. Very commendable and courageous. Our thoughts and condolences are with the Toure family at this sad time.
Below is how the Ivory Coast side rated -
Goalkeeper - Boubacar Barry - The experienced keeper was competing in his eighth major tournament. However this experience did not count for a great deal. He made a couple of routine saves but generally looked uncomfortable. He did not radiate confidence.
Inevitably he was beaten twice on the night and looked shaky - 6
Left Back - Arthur Boka - The African side started the game looking for their full-backs to provide their width. With Didier Drogba up front, crosses surely were the way forward. Boka did look to provide crosses and get forward where possible.
His defensive work was reliable also, he had a good game - 7
Centre-back - Souleymane Bamba - A physical, imposing central defender. He is an old fashioned player who takes ball and man in the tackle. Comfortable in the air but when asked to distribute the ball or start attacks, he did not look comfortable.
This lack of technical ability is not good enough at this level. He, like Barry, did not exude confidence - 6
Centre-back - Kolo Toure - The Liverpool man has not had the best of seasons for his club. However in his first start in Brazil, he looked classy. Winning everything in the air, on the ball he passed well.
Composed and confident he looked at his best and was unlucky to be on the losing side - 7
Right-back - Serge Aurier - Courted by Arsenal and top European clubs, the youngster was impressive. His pace and athleticism contributed to his ability to recover from a mistake or make an efficient interception.
He also looked good going forward but due to the Greek's attacking intent, he and Boka were not able to provide enough width for the Ivorian's - 7
Central Midfield - Gonzaroua Die - A defensive midfielder, charged with breaking up play and making tackles. He did not have a good game. The Greek's broke with increased frequency as the game went on.
He was not able to use his athleticism to have an impact on the game - 6
Central Midfield - Yaya Toure - Hugely impressive with Manchester City. He became more prominent as the game wore on. A couple of trademark runs. Powering through the opposition and beating player after player. He linked up well with team-mates to create several chances.
All too frequently though he disappeared for several phases of the game, not at his imperious best - 6
Central Midfield - Ismael Tiote - Another sitting midfielder, his reading of the game and ability to break up opposition attacks was evident. He was athletic and a real presence in the midfield.
He used good footwork also to beat a player and slide a neat through ball in to a striker - 7
Tiote was replaced by Wilfried Bony on sixty-one minutes. 1 0 down, the Ivorian coach went two up front, keeping talismanic striker, Drogba, on. A wise decision. Bony initially looked poor with a couple of heavy first touches.
On seventy-three minutes Salomon Kalou combined with Gervinho who slid a neat pass to Bony. Who then converted and put the Ivorian's on course for a place in the knock-out phase of the tournament. One chance, one goal. A good performance - 8
Attacker - Salomon Kalou - The Lille striker was lively. Good footwork and speed beat players on regular occasion. He looked a threat.
However a lack of quality, which was an over-riding theme for the African side, ensured he did not contribute significantly - 6
Attacker - Didier Drogba - The thirty-six year old, towering striker had a quiet match. His hold up play was effective and he brought team-mates in to play. Equally his defensive play, especially at set pieces was noticeable.
He fed of scraps largely though, through out the game and did not have any clear cut opportunities - 6
Drogba was replaced by Ismael Diomande on seventy-eight minutes. Diomande was not able to contribute, he did not have the time - 6
Attacker - Gervinho - Things did not work for him. He tripped over the ball regularly and was not able to provide any real threat.
He combined well with Kalou though and provided an assist for Bony - 7
Gervinho was replaced by Giovanni Sio on eighty-three minutes. He also did not have time enough to contribute, positively any way.
In the ninety-first minute he showed good effort to track back and fulfill his defensive duties. However he committed a 'striker's challenge' and brought down a Greek within the penalty area. The penalty was slotted and Ivory Coast's world cup dream was over - 5
On paper Ivory Coast had experience and quality. With enough big names to progress, they should have won this game. However on the night a real lack of urgency, tempo and end product cost them big time.
A Greek side showed plenty of attacking intent, knowing they needed a win. They opened Ivory Coast up and contributed to a thrilling encounter.
Ivory Coast will see this as an opportunity missed but the Greeks advance in to the next round.
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