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Brazil shift focus

JOHANNESBURG, June 16 – Brazil switch their attention to the looming battles in their 'Group of Death' with Ivory Coast and Portugal after coming through their test of patience against the resilient North Korea at the World Cup.
It took the five-time world champions almost an hour to find a chink in the massed North Korean defence to chisel out a hard-fought 2-1 opening victory in Group G at Ellis Park on Tuesday.

Now the Brazilians get down to the business end of their challenging group with a showdown with Ivory Coast at Johannesburg’s Soccer City on Sunday, followed by a clash with Portugal in Durban on June 25.

Brazil midfielder Gilberto Silva said the team had watched Ivory Coast’s scoreless draw with Portugal on television before they headed to the ground and it just underlined the task ahead.

"We will be expecting a lot of difficulties against them. They have a strong team, but we are very confident that we can do well and win the game," said Silva, who won the World Cup in 2002.

Silva, who spent six successful years with Arsenal winning two FA Cups and an English Premier League title before joining Panathinaikos in 2008, played all of his time at the Gunners with Ivory Coast’s defensive kingpin Kolo Toure.

"When Kolo and I went through Arsenal’s unbeaten (2003/04) season that was a great achievement for both of us and it will be nice to see him again at the Ivory Coast match," Silva said.

Silva was unsure what part star striker Didier Drogba would play for Ivory Coast despite the Chelsea ace coming on as a substitute against Portugal with his broken right arm in a protective cast.

"We don’t know yet whether he (Drogba) will play or not, even though he came on as a substitute, but we’ll see," Silva said.

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"Of course, we respect him when he plays against us, he’s a very important player for them. He is a player about which we should be very careful.

"They have a strong team, we must play very well from the first to the last minute.

"We have every preparation to make sure that the team keeps on improving."

Silva was relieved to get past North Korea with maximum points after enduring a tough time before Maicon’s wonder strike in the 55th minute sent Brazil on their way.

"We expected a lot of difficulties in this game, but we didn’t expect North Korea to face Brazil and play their normal game," he said.

"I am not sure if they will play the same way against us as they will against the other two teams.

"But winning was most important and at the end of the day we got the result."

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