It was the match that was eagerly expected by the connoisseurs around the world. And for most of it Brazil, and to a much lesser extent Ivory Coast, obliged with a display of quality soccer. But they also gave us glimpses into the darkness. It ended Brazil 3, Ivory Coast 1.
Johannesburg’s Soccer City was ready for the festival of soccer. The best the world has to offer, Brazil against the best Africa has to offer, Ivory Coast. A team that sports names like Drogba, Kolo Ture, Kalou, Eboue, Gervinho could take any other team, but Brazil is in the league of its own.
Brazil’s team is a thoroughly impressive outfit that has only one mode: Attack. They do not think so much about tactics, and this reporter suspects their strategy meetings are short. Because when you’re on top of the game, things actually become rather simple. All you need do is get your guys on the field and motivate them to fight. The rest is sorted out by their sheer overwhelming talent and willingness to attack for 90 minutes. Kaka, Louis Fabiano, Robinho, Bastos, Maicon and the brilliant Inter goalkeeper, Cesar, lead a team that is so rich in talent it will be almost impossible for anyone to stop them.
From their side, Ivory Coast can find comfort in the first-ever goal scored by any African nation against Brazil. Still, it remains a fact that for most of the game they were outplayed in just about every department. And emphatically so. Drogba’s goal and few other missed chances map the way through Brazilian defence that may be used by Portugal and other teams when plotting their battles.
And yet, there’s still a bitter taste in the collective mouth of many soccer lovers. For all Louis Fabiano’s brilliance – and his first goal rivals Tshabalala’s rocket for the best goal of the World Cup so far – it remains an undisputed fact that, while scoring his second goal, he handled the ball not once, but twice. Had Diego Maradona not been Argentinean and genuinely hated Brazilians, he would have been openly proud. The ugly scenes right before the end of the match, that saw Kaka get a red card, also sullied what was a game of magic and fight. Apart from the warring players, the fault can fairly and squarely be laid at the feet of Brazilian coach, Dunga, who failed to see clear signs of Kaka’s frustrations and to foresee that his yellow card could easily turn red. Instead, he opted to have frequent outbursts of anger that did nothing to calm his players’ nerves. Astonishing.
Photo: Referee Stephane Lannoy of France flashes the red card to Brazil’s Kaka (L) during their 2010 World Cup Group G soccer match against Ivory Coast at Soccer City stadium in Johannesburg June 20, 2010. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach
With Sunday’s win, Brazil have qualified for the next round. It is now between Portugal, North Korea and Ivory Coast to fight for the remaining seat. And don’t think anybody can predict anything with certainty.
Here are the reporter’s notes:
Brazil: Julio Cesar, Juan, Lúcio, Michel Bastos, Maicon, Felipe Melo, Gilberto Silva, Luis Fabiano, Kaka, Robinho, Elano
Ivory Coast: Boubacar Barry, Didier Zokora, Kolo Toure, Siaka Tiene, Guy Demel, Yaya Toure, Ismael Tiote, Emmanuel Eboue, Salomon Kalou, Didier Drogba, Aruna Dindane
Man of the match
The only change Sven Goran Eriksson made to the side that drew with Portugal is bringing Didier Drogba on to start. Gervinho makes way for his captain.
- 1st minute: Robinho skies a shot he should have passed to a teammate who had all the space in the world off to his left. Good start, though.
- 4th minute: free kick to Ivory Coast.
- 6th minute: first sight of goal for Ivory Coast. Drogba tries to latch onto a through ball, but is beaten by Julio Cesar.
- 12th minute: free kick to Ivory Coast after Gilberto Silva defends rather too rigorously and brings Eboue down. Drogba takes it. The free kick is terrible.
- 14th minute: Lucio fouls Drogba and Ivory Coast have another free kick. The Brazilian captain has a lengthy argument with the French referee. Eboue takes the free kick, forcing a brave save from Julio Cesar.
- 18th minute: Maicon wins a corner for Brazil. Robinho has the eventual shot at goal, which is high.
- 20th minute: Maicon attempts to sneak in a goal like he did against North Korea, but the ball drifts too wide for a shot. His cross is turned aside for a corner.
- 24th minute: Luis Fabiano fires a screamer in over Boubacar Barry’s head for a goal. A clever bit of play involving Kaka and Robinho.
- 29th minute: Lucio goes down after clipping Tiote’s trailing foot. I don’t see what that’s all about.
- 30th minute: Siaka Tiene gets a yellow card for a late lunge on Elano. Dunga, the Brazilian coach, is beside himself with rage out on the side. Well, it was a cynical challenge.
The Brazilians are finding the Africans as hard in defence as they expected. Lots of free kicks to the Samba Boys.
- 36th minute: Demel tries a near cross into the Brazilian penalty box. Routine save for Julio Cesar.
- 37th minute: Yaya Toure finds Drogba in the Brazilian box, but the shot is blocked by a defender.
- 38th minute: Dindane has a go at Julio Cesar from distance, trying to emulate the sort of shot that was the undoing of Robert Green. Cesar has no troubles with the catch.
- 40th minute: Julio Cesar almost concedes the ball to Drogba.
- 41st minute: Emmanuel Eboue smacks a shot wide. It takes a slight deflection off Juan, but the assistant referee doesn’t see it. Goal kick to Brazil.
- 43rd minute: Siaka Tiene goes down, Luis Fabiano the offending party. The referee allows play to continue, and then blows when Brazil has possession. Robinho and Kaka not impressed by his decision, and let the referee know.
End of first half.
- 47th minute: Gervinho is warming up on the side. Drogba’s game may be over in a few minutes. He’s had little influence in this game. Neither has Kaka for that matter, aside from lending a pass to the move which set Luis Fabiano up for a shot.
- 50th minute: Brilliant play from Luis Fabiano to chip a ball over, not one, but two Ivorian defenders, setting himself up for a shot. Goal! It’s Samba play through and through.
- 54th minute: Dindane sets Drogba up for a header, which is flicked right across the Brazilian goal. Drogba should have scored that one.
- 54th minute: Aruna Dindane comes off for Gervinho.
Luis Fabiano committed two potential hand balls as he set himself up for that goal. Hmmm.
- 59th minute: Gervinho makes a good run into the Brazilian penalty area, not managing to outrun Julio Cesar.
- 60th minute: Long shot from Elano, which goes out.
- 61st minute: Robinho and Kaka produce more Samba magic, but not well enough to beat Boubacar Barry.
- 62nd minute: Kaka dances away from a Ivorian defender, setting Elano up for a sitter. That’s more like it from Kaka.
- 64th minute: Ivory Coast win their first corner of the night.
- 65th minute: Elano may be out. It was a studs-up hit on the Brazilian by Tiote.
- 67th minute: Elano is off. Dani Alves come on.
- 67th minute: Ivory Coast make a change of their own. Kader Keita comes on for Salomon Kalou.
- 68th minute: Julio Cesar comes out again to beat Emmanuel Eboue to a through ball.
- 69th minute: Maicon sends a shot wide.
Sven Goran Eriksson is out of ideas.
- 71st minute: Romaric comes on for Emmanuel Eboue.
- 72nd minute: a great shot from Tiote which Julio Cesar gets down very quickly to save.
- 74th minute: Dani Alves has a go at Boubacar Barry with a rather weak effort.
- 75th minute: yellow card to Khader Keita for a studs-up challenge on Michelle Bastos.
- 79th minute: Gervinho does so well to make a counter attack all by himself. He is isolated, but manages to find Yaya Toure on the back pass. The younger Toure brother chips it into the penalty box for Drogba. Easy goal for Didier Drogba.
All credit to Gervinho for that goal.
- 85th minute: yellow card to Kaka for getting into a brawl with Keita. Poor from the Brazilian. Very poor.
- 85th minute: Tiote gets a yellow card for barging into Luis Fabiano.
- 87th minute: A brawl breaks out between the two teams. Kaka nudges Keita in ribs, and absolute pandemonium breaks out as Keita goes down clutching his face. Kaka gets a second yellow and is sent off. What a sour end to what was otherwise an outstanding performance from Brazil.
- 91st minute: Ivory Coast try to pull another one back on Brazil. Julio Cesar flies out to intercept a cross from Keita that was intended for Drogba.
- 92nd minute: Ramires comes on for Robinho.
- 93rd minute: free kick to Brazil, and Dani Alves will take it. About the same place as the one he struck against South Africa in the Confederations Cup. Boubacar Barry tames the shot easily.
End of match.
Report by Branko Brkic, notes by Sipho Hlongwane
Main photo: Brazil’s Luis Fabiano (R) controls the ball before scoring his second goal during their 2010 World Cup Group G soccer match against Ivory Coast at Soccer City stadium in Johannesburg June 20, 2010. REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker