Ivory Coast manager Sabri Lamouchi says star player Yaya Toure is feeling very tired ahead of the side’s decisive second World Cup game against Colombia on Thursday.
Toure is coming off a stellar 2013-14 campaign with Manchester City, in which the midfielder scored an astonishing 20 goals in 35 Premier Leagues games to help the club to the title, earning a place on both the PFA Team of the Year and the PFA Player of the Year award shortlist for his efforts.
The 31-year-old however underwent surgery to correct a hamstring problem in Qatar last month and hasn’t been able to complete a full training session since joining up late with his national side in the USA for their warm-up games.
Speaking on the Colombia matchup, Lamouchi acknowledged how important Toure is to his side’s chances against the South American outfit, but did not seem overly concerned either when pressed on the health of his talisman.
‘Yaya Toure is a fundamental player within the Ivory Coast squad,’ he said. ‘I would have liked to have substituted him during the last game against Japan but unfortunately the score didn’t allow it and he ended up very tired with pain all over. It’s normal though, as these were his first 90 minute since his injury.’
After a hard-fought 2-1 win over Japan in their opening match, the Ivory Coast are looking to progress to the last 16 for the first time in the team’s history, in what is their third consecutive World Cup since making their debut in 2006.
Having been drawn in decidedly tough groups at their previous two tournaments, the White Elephants face a wide open contest this time around, as their ageing “Golden Generation” of stars, featuring Didier Drogba, Salomon Kalou, Didier Zokora and Toure and his brother Kolo, get one last chance to impress on the world’s biggest stage.
With their final match coming against an unfancied Greece side, a win tomorrow will certainly put Lamouchi’s squad in a prime position to make the knockout stages, by which time Toure will have hopefully overcome any lingering injury concerns.
Against the more formidable sides in Brazil, they will be desperate for the reigning African Footballer of the Year’s powerful runs from midfield, leadership and goalscoring ability, which have seen him widely acknowledged as one of the top players, not just in the Premier League, but the world game.