Yaya Toure struggling to be fit to face Japan

Ivory Coast star battling a hamstring injury

Ivory Coast midfielder Yaya Toure is struggling to shake off a hamstring injury in time for their World Cup Group C opener against Japan on Sunday, with his likely absence compounded by the return to fitness of Blue Samurai captain Makoto Hasebe.

The three-times African player of the year joined up late with the Ivory Coast squad after undergoing treatment in Qatar and missed the two warm-up matches in the United States where the Africans lost 2-1 to Bosnia but beat El Salvador by the same score.

Toure’s absence for the match against Japan, their likely main rivals for a knockout berth with Colombia tipped to win the group and Greece expected to struggle, would be a huge blow for the Ivorians.

“We will try and do everything to ensure he can play,” said Ivory Coast coach Sabri Lamouchi ahead of the clash at the Pernambuco arena in Recife.


Serey Die is expected to fill the void if Toure fails to make it and his robust style would help give the weak defence of the Africans better protection. Didier Drogba is expected to start in a probable three -man forward line along with Salomon Kalou and Gervinho

Japan coach Alberto Zaccheroni has defensive headaches with warm up wins over Zambia and Costa Rica earlier this month again showcasing their inability to keep clean sheets. robable teams: IVORY COAST: Barry; Aurier, Bamba, K Toure, Boka; Tiote, Die, Gradel; Kalou, Drogba, Gervinho. JAPAN: Kawashima; Uchida, Yoshida, Konno, Nagatomo; Hasebe, Endo; Okazaki, Honda, Kagawa; Kakitani.