Africa are up and running at the 2014 FIFA World Cup™ after Ivory Coast came from behind to defeat Japan 2-1 in Recife on Saturday. The Japanese were the better of the two sides at first. On 16 minutes it was the Blue Samurai who opened the scoring thanks to Keisuke Honda.
A lovely passing move by the Japanese saw Shinji Okazaki force a corner with a header. The corner was taken short as Shinji Kagawa laid the ball on for Honda who made his way into the box and drilled home the opener with a lovely left-footed strike. After the disappointment o Cameroon’s defeat to Mexico on Friday, it was looking bleak for Africa.
However as the match wore on the Ivorians started finding their stride and even hit the upright before half-time. Wilfried Bony demonstrated what was perhaps to come as the West Africans rued their luck, 1-0 down at the break at the Arena Pernambuco. The majority Japanese crowd had no idea that an Elephant stampede was coming.
After pushing and prodding, Sabri Lamouchi brought on the legendary Didier Drogba. The Galatasaray striker made an immediate impact. Drogba played his part in opening up the Blue Samurai defence as a Serge Aurier cross found the head of Bony and it was 1-1 in Recife.
But one was never going to be enough. Just seconds later it was two goals in two minutes as another inch-perfect cross from Aurier found Gervinho’s head and it was Japan 1, Ivory Coast 2 and that is how it would stay.