Ivory Coast need a miracle


JOHANNESBURG — Ivory Coast will make one last desperate bid to win a place in the World Cup last 16 today when they face a North Korea side hoping to salvage some national pride in today’s Group G finale.
The West Africans are hoping for a miracle to get out of a tough group after Portugal whipped the Asian team 7-0, notching up an almost insurmountable goal difference that has left the Ivorians searching for divine intervention.
Ivory Coast must beat North Korea by a huge score and hope Brazil overcome Portugal in the other game in the group.
“If we remain in, it will be a great miracle,” said defender Arthur Boka. “Only God knows (if we can do it).”
The clash will pit the tournament’s fairest team against one of the most physical. North Korea committed only three fouls in the heavy defeat by Portugal while Ivory Coast were penalised for 23 fouls in their fiercely contested match with Brazil.
“If Portugal can beat them 7-0 why can’t we do the same?” said Boka, although neither he nor midfielder Gervinho — who said he held his head in despair watching the whitewash — looked very convinced.
“For us what is more important is to exit this tournament with our heads held high,” he repeated at least three times at a news conference in which both players seemed somewhat dejected.
North Korea’s place at the finals has propelled the reclusive nation into the international spotlight and they started well with a brave 2-1 loss to Brazil.