Group C: Ivory Coast vs. Japan

  • June 14, 9 p.m. ET
  • Live on CBC TV, streaming online at cbc.ca/fifaworldcup

What’s at stake

Ivory Coast went undefeated in qualifying, as they did in 2010, and are in fact unbeaten in its last 21 qualifiers. But the team was knocked out in the first rounds of its only two World Cup appearances — 2006 and 2010. It'll want to do much better in Brazil.

Japan sailed also through qualifying it was the first country to qualify for 2014. And the Japanese scored frequently along the way 16 goals in eight matches while conceding only five goals. They come to Brazil as the Asia Cup champions. Expectations are high.

These two teams have never met at the World Cup, but Japan leads its three-game friendly history two wins to one.

Impact players

  • Ivory Coast: Didier Drogba. A global superstar for years, Drogba is his country’s record goal scorer. This will be his last World Cup, and he wants to lead his team past the first round as another chapter in his amazing story.
  • Japan: Keisuke Honda. An attacking midfielder for AC Milan, Honda scores creatively while having a keen eye for playmaking. He was man-of-the-match three times in Japan’s 2010 World Cup campaign.

What to watch for

“The Elephants”, as Ivory Coast is known, will hope that Drogba and his former Chelsea teammate Salomon Kalou can rekindle their former attacking magic when playing Japan.

The Blue Samurai bring their own attacking talents to Brazil in the names of Honda and teammate Shinji Kagawa. And by playing play a 4-3-2-1 formation their attacks often start in the midfield.

Watch for plenty of shots from both sides.

They said it

  • “This year we are going to try to create the big surprise.” — Didier Drogba told the media after his team beat El Salvador in a warm-up match.
  • “Nobody is guaranteed of playing in the next World Cup. For myself, I’ve been working to make this World Cup a turning point. I’m going in with a feeling that ‘there is no next chance.’”  Keisuke Honda speaking recently to soccerly.com.

The Big Number

14 — June 14th is clearly lucky for Japan against African teams. Both of its previous games against teams from Africa were played on June 14 — as is its match against Ivory Coast. Japan won both of those games — 2-0 against Tunisia in 2002 and 1-0 against Cameroon in 2010.

Obligatory Fun Fact

The Ivory Coast keepers wear dark grey, and the Japanese keepers wear light grey. Hope you’re watching in HD.