Drogba trains with ICoast teammates but still in doubt for 1st World Cup game against Portugal

By Pan Pylas, AP
Friday, June 11, 2010

Drogba trains, still doubt for Ivory Coast opener

SHARPEVILLE, South Africa — Didier Drogba practiced with his Ivory Coast teammates Friday but remains doubtful for the team’s opening World Cup match against Portugal because of his broken arm.

The captain wore a protective cast and kept his right arm still as he worked on ball skills and fitness. Drogba was hurt in an exhibition match against Japan last Friday and had surgery a day later.

“We can’t risk any contact at this point,” coach Sven-Goran Eriksson said at the team’s headquarters in Vanderbijlpark. “He feels better and better.”

Eriksson conceded that Drogba’s absence in Tuesday’s opening Group G game in Port Elizabeth would be a big loss to the team, but that he was working on “a B plan and a C plan as well.”

Eriksson said the team had “to be prepared for the worst” if Drogba can’t play, but that the playing system would be “more or less the same.”

Ivory Coast is widely considered Africa’s best hope of lifting the World Cup in a month’s time. It is blessed with a wide array of talent, including Drogba’s Chelsea teammate, Salomon Kalou, and Barcelona midfielder Yaya Toure.

However, it has been dealt an extremely tough group — again.

After kicking off its World Cup schedule against 2006 semifinalist Portugal, Ivory Coast faces five-time winner Brazil. If it loses both games, then its seemingly easier match against North Korea could be meaningless.

“It’s very difficult for all of us,” Eriksson said.

will not be displayed