The Ivory Coast took the field Wednesday night in Frisco in serious need of a good result in their final tuneup before heading to Brazil for the World Cup. Injuries and illness have limited the squad's preparations recently as both Yaya and Kolo Toure have been sidelined. Both missed the recent loss to Bosnia as did IC attackers Gervinho and Saloman Kalou. No need to worry about the Bosnia loss as a group much closer to the main squad would be on the pitch tonight. Unfortunately, Yaya Toure was still a no-go as he recovers from his illness and a slight leg injury suffered in training.
They were facing off against El Salvador. A squad that has been less than fierce of late and in the midst of a major youth movement. Attention has been firmly focused on the upcoming Copa Centroamericano and the next World Cup qualifying cycle. Thus it was a bunch of youngsters that the federation brought to Texas. The average age of the group is only 24. Would they be able to put up a fight against the talented World Cup side from Ivory Coast?
The answer was basically no. For 70 minutes it was men against boys for the most part. The Ivory Coast dominated thoroughly. I guess they have not heard of Gervinho in El Salvador because they decided he was not worth paying attention to for most of the night.
Gervinho put IC ahead in the 9th minute as he raced in behind the El Salvador defense after receiving a perfect pass from Didier Drogba. Gervinho rounded the keeper and slipped the ball into the empty net. Much too easy. On the very next attack Gervinho returned the favor as he sent a low cross to Drogba in the box, but Didier scuffed his shot over the crossbar.
Just before halftime Ivory Coast made it 2-0 and once again it was the Drogba-Gervinho show. Replay as again Gervinho blasted down the wing sending another good cross Drogba's way. This time Drogba's finish was true as he slid the cross into the net from six yards. 2-0 Ivory Coast at the break and for the most part they didn't even break a sweat. I don't think El Salvador got across midfield more than 3-4 times the entire 45 minutes.
The second half was much the same for twenty minutes as it was all one way traffic with Ivory Coast flying down the flanks and Tiote winning everything in the middle of the pitch. It should have been 3-0 in the 60th but Soulemon Bamba out his header over the crossbar
It took a bad giveaway from Serge Aurier to give El Salvador their first sniff at goal. Aurier turned the ball over 40 yards from goal and the El Salvador counter led to a good shot from Darwin Ceren that forced a smart save from keeper Boubacar who pushed the ball out for a corner. On the resulting corner there was a tussle in the box and the referee awarded El Salvador a penalty kick which Arturo Alvarez put away. Suddenly El Salvador had life and the all blue crowd urged them forward.
Unfortunately they just did not have the class to trouble Ivory Coast anymore. The match ended 2-1 but the scoreline did not in any way reflect the dominance on the field. The Ivory Coast will be a handfull in Brazil down the flanks. Wherever Gervinho popped up he caused trouble.
It was a confidence booster for Ivory Coast as they now head to Brazil for the World Cup. They'll face much tougher competition ahead.