Ivory Coast have flattered to deceive pretty much every time at the FIFA World Cup, their so called "golden generation" unable to find the right quality and wherewithal to put in a sustained challenge at the grandest stage of them all.
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Having been drawn with Japan, Colombia and Greece, the Ivory Coast have a Group C from which qualification is quite possible, indeed a group from which where they will start as one of the favourites to make it to the last 16, at least.
Standing in the African giants' way first up are Japan, the Asian side looking for that big leap in the World Cup, a leap which will take them from the relative comforts of the round of 16 into the heady heights of the quarterfinals or the semis.
Ivory Coast have failed to get out of the group stage in the last two World Cups, something that is a little surprising considering the wealth of talent at their disposal. Having been given a relatively easy group, Didier Drogba and co. will expect to finish in the top two starting with a win over Japan, a team against whom they have lost two of their three matches, at the Arena Pernambuco in Recife.
"We know that these are great players and this a great nation but we need to build a collective identity," said Ivory Coast coach Sabri Lamouchi.
Ivory Coast could be tripped up by injuries to a few of their key players, with one main man – Yaya Toure – in particular struggling with a hamstring problem. However, Lamouchi insisted all of his 23 players in the squad were fit and raring to go, insisting Toure would be available for their opener on Saturday.
"I can tell you that all my players are physically ready to play tomorrow," Lamouchi added on Friday. "I can't say that all my players will be at 100 percent. We have had a number of injuries and health problems but everybody is available tomorrow."
Japan qualified for the round of 16 in South Africa four years ago, before going down to Paraguay in the pre-quarterfinals. The Asian powerhouses, however, struggled considerably in the curtain-raiser Confederations Cup a year back in Brazil, and coach Alberto Zaccheroni has not quite managed to plug a leaky defence.
The Japanese have managed to keep just one clean sheet in their last nine games, and with the amount of firepower at Ivory Coast's disposal, that record does not bode too well for them.
"I believe the team has improved," Zaccheroni said. "In the last important competition, the Confederations Cup, we failed the maturity test. Since then, 12 months have gone, in the meantime the team have gained experience and me too. I'm curious to see in this test how much we've improved.
"For sure, we've improved, now let's see the first few games and then I can be more precise."
Expected lineups: Ivory Coast: Barry; Aurier, Kolo Toure, Zokora, Boka; Tiote, Yaya Toure, Die; Kalou, Drogba, Gervinho.
Japan: Kawashima; Uchida, Yoshida, Konno, Nagatomo; Hasebe, Endo; Okazaki, Honda, Kagawa; Kakitani.
Prediction: 2-1 to Ivory Coast