Toure Could Play Again In Attack In Quarter-Final

by
Reuters
Ivory Coast coach Sabri Lamouchi has hinted he will continue with the new forward role for Yaya Toure in the African Nations Cup quarter-final against Nigeria on Sunday but it is not sure whether Didier Drogba will start.

Yaya Toure

Ivory Coast coach Sabri Lamouchi has hinted he will continue with the new forward role for Yaya Toure in the African Nations Cup quarter-final against Nigeria on Sunday but it is not sure whether Didier Drogba will start.

Toure was used as an attacking midfielder and occasional supplementary striker for the Ivorians in their second game of the tournament, setting up a goal and scoring one himself in a 3-0 win over Tunisia on Saturday.

It was a match in which Drogba was benched and which secured for the Ivorians top place in Group D, allowing them to rest their key players in the last group game on Wednesday against Algeria.

"We must find a pattern that suits the squad and the one we used against Tunisia was well done and well understood by the players," Lamouchi, indicating he is tempted to play a similar tactic in Sunday's knockout tie at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace in Rustenburg.

The Ivorians were the only side who had the opportunity to rest players ahead of the quarter-finals, a factor Lamouchi felt could be vital.

"From the moment we were sure to play our quarter-final in Rustenburg because we had ensured first place, it was essential to rotate the players," he told reporters on Saturday.

"It was obvious that we should not take risks with injury or players picking up cards."

Lamouchi is unique at the finals in his ability to select almost two separate sides with winning potential, such is the depth in the 23-man squad.

"The choices are plentiful, and I'm certainly not going to complain. I'm very conscious of having a workforce that is rich in quality and quantity."

This was evident in the dilemma over Drogba, whose relegation to the bench had no effect on the side when they beat Tunisia last weekend.

Drogba returned for the 2-2 draw against Algeria, ostensibly to improve his fitness after months of inactivity following the end of the China league season in early November.

Drogba scored in the match but might yet have to cede his place to the tall Lancina Traore, emerging as his successor in the Ivory Coast line-up.

The Ivorians, who won two and drew one of their Group D games, remain the firm favourites for Nations Cup success.

Lamouchi suggested the match against Nigeria, who stuttered through the group stages, would be no formality. "This will be a tough game whose outcome will be settled in the small details," he added.