SION , Switzerland (AFP) – Ivory Coast saw off Japan 2-0 in a pre-World Cup friendly on Friday, but captain Didier Drogba may miss the World Cup after suffering a fractured forearm that may keep him out of the event.
Drogba fired home an early deflected free-kick but then injured his right arm and was forced to go off after just 18 minutes following a seemingly innocuous clash with Brazilian-born Japanese defender Marcus Tulio Tanaka.
“Didier Drogba has not for the moment pulled out (of the squad),” the Ivorian Football Federation (FIF) said in a statement on its website, as rumours abounded that the player would not recover in time.
Drogba gave way to CSKA Moscow forward Seydou Doumbia and hurried off for a scan at a hospital in the Swiss town of Sion which hosted the game.
Elephants’ coach Sven-Goran Eriksson said: “Didier Drogba was injured just above the elbow.
“We do not know if he will be able to play the World Cup. Of course it is very worrying. He is our skipper and our best player.
“I have not as yet spoken to him but what is certain is that he was in great pain.”
French media reports quoted Drogba as saying he would miss the tournament.
L’Equipe sports daily reported on its website: “After tests the player confirmed to us he would not be able to play in the World Cup.”
Following his hospital scan Drogba was seen by reporters with his arm in a sling and held protectively under his vest.
Team-mate Kolo Toure, who scored the second goal, said: “Of course without Didier Drogba we are not the same team but we have good players with abundant qualities.”
Drogba helped the Ivorians open the scoring just three minutes before going off, hammering goalwards a free kick which was deflected in off Tanaka.
Manchester City’s Toure added the clincher ten minutes from time to complete the win and give the Elephants a fillip, the injury to Drogba notwithstanding.
The Ivorians ought to have seen off weak opponents by a larger margin and Doumbia wasted several opportunities, firing over after Toure set him up on the half hour and then firing off target seconds before the break.
Aruna Dindane also went close as Japan struggled to hold their lines.
Toure finally claimed his goal when he turned in following a Saka Tiene free kick.
Swede Eriksson praised the team’s overall performance.
“We played well with a lot of discipline,” said the former England boss.
Shunsuke Nakamura might have given the Japanese something to cheer but his free kick five minutes after the interval was taken smartly by Ivorian keeper Boubacar Barry.
Japan coach Takeshi Okada said he was on the whole satisfied with his team’s performance.
“We were up against a good team with good players,” said Okada.
“But we put some good moves together. We were tight in defence which helped us prevent our rivals from increasing their pace on us.
“We were there for some good duels. I’m satisfied with the way that we used the ball up front. We knew how to keep it simple.”
Japan must now try to find some form ahead of their Group E meetings with further African opposition in the shape of Cameroon as well as Denmark and Holland while Ivory Coast will go up against Brazil, Portugal and North Korea in Group G.