Football Football

Yaya Toure ‘ready to play’, says Lamouchi


YAYA-IVORY-COASTRECIFE, June 14- Ivory Coast coach Sabri Lamouchi on Friday said that all his squad were “ready to play” in Saturday’s World Cup opener against Japan, suggesting that star player Yaya Toure will feature.

“All my players are ready to play on Saturday but I can’t say they are all 100 percent,” Lamouchi said when questioned about the Manchester City midfielder Toure, who has been struggling with a hamstring problem since the end of the English Premier League season last month.

“Some have had little problems, but they have recovered well and everyone is available.”

That includes veteran striker Didier Drogba, who had himself been hampered by a groin problem in recent weeks but is in line to feature in the Group C encounter at the Pernambuco Arena in the north-eastern coastal city of Recife.

“Didier Drogba is doing great. He has fully overcome the injury he suffered playing for Galatasaray,” said Lamouchi.

“He has had to make enormous sacrifices to make it here. His experience will be very useful.”

At 42, Frenchman Lamouchi is the youngest coach in the World Cup and he is under pressure to lead the Elephants to the knockout stages for the first time.

In 2006 and 2010 they were eliminated in the group phase, but hopes are high in the Ivory Coast that their so-called golden generation can take advantage of a supposedly kinder draw in Brazil that will see them also face Colombia and Greece.

However, Lamouchi tried to play down expectations surrounding his side, saying: “I don’t think it will be easier this time. Anyone can progress. I would say Colombia are slight favourites, even without (the injured Radamel) Falcao.”