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Brazil expects difficult Ivory Coast

20/06/2010 05:35:38 AM Comments (0)

Brazil is expecting more difficulties when it faces Ivory Coast on Sunday with the chance to reach the second round of the World Cup with a game to spare in Group G.

Victory would allow Brazil to relax and maybe even rest some players in its last group match against Portugal on Friday, but coach Dunga is bracing for a tough match at Soccer City.

"We know we won't be able to create many scoring opportunities," Dunga said Saturday. "In the World Cup, you have to take advantage of the opportunities you have, we will need to be very efficient."

Brazil began the World Cup with a hard-fought 2-1 win over North Korea on Tuesday in Johannesburg, when it struggled to get past the tight defensive set up of the North Koreans.

"Ivory Coast also will not let us play," Dunga said.

"But playing defensive or not, they have a lot of quality and speed. They will be careful, but will try to attack, too."

The Ivory Coast played well against Portugal in the opener but could not get past a 0-0 draw in Port Elizabeth.

"I guess a draw against Brazil is always a good result," Ivory Coast coach Sven-Goran Eriksson said. "Of course a fantastic result will be to beat them. A draw won't be bad. But we are not going there thinking about drawing. We are going out to win."

Eriksson said he will leave his decision on whether to start Didier Drogba until the last hours leading up to Sunday's match.

Dunga said he was not planning any special scheme to contain the Chelsea striker if he plays.

"He is an important player and we will have to be careful, but you can't mark him alone, you have to defend against the others, too," Dunga said.

Drogba made a successful return from a broken arm with a 24-minute substitute appearance against Portugal, looking untroubled by the injury he sustained in a World Cup warmup on June 4.

"Every player feels very, very well and we've got confidence in ourselves," Ivory Coast defender Emmanuel Eboue said. "If Drogba plays, it will be very great for us."

Brazil would reach six points with a victory, enough to make it one of the two teams that advance from the group. Ivory Coast would not be eliminated with a loss, but it could make it very hard for the African nation to advance if Portugal racks up a big win against North Korea.

"We did well against Portugal and we are ready to go a step further against Brazil," Eriksson said.

It will be the first match between Brazil and Ivory Coast, but Brazil has won all five of its previous World Cup meetings with African teams. The most recent was four years ago, when the Brazilians defeated Ghana 3-0 in the round of 16 before losing to France in the quarterfinals.

"It will be a difficult game for us," Ivory Coast midfielder Cheick Tiote said. "Brazil is very strong in attack so we have to watch out for that. We will have to be well-organised and attack when we can and when we have to."

Dunga acknowledged that Brazil was below its best against North Korea, but was expecting natural improvement.

"The tendency is for us to improve as we play more matches," Brazil striker Robinho said. "Hopefully it will be enough to give us the win against the Ivory Coast and a spot in the next round."

Robinho could take over the playmaker's role on Sunday if Kaka continues to struggle to find his form after entering the World Cup recovering from a series of injuries with Real Madrid.

Kaka was far from his best in the match against North Korea and was substituted in the 78th minute. If he doesn't play the entire match on Sunday, Robinho could move back to midfield.

Brazil midfielder Gilberto Silva trained normally Saturday and was set to play from the start against Ivory Coast despite missing action in a closed training session on Friday amid unconfirmed reports of an ankle injury.

"All players are fit to play in Sunday's match," Brazil doctor Jose Luiz Runco said.

Brazil has played in all 19 World Cups so far, while Ivory Coast is playing only in its second. It failed to get past the group stage four years ago in Germany.

Neither team was allowed to practice at Soccer City to avoid damaging the field ahead of Sunday's match.

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