Côte d’Ivoire coach Sabri Lamouchi warned his side not to get carried away after they came from behind to defeat Japan 2-1 in their FIFA World Cup™ Group C opener in Recife on Saturday night.
Headers by Wilfried Bony and Gervinho just 98 seconds apart secured the points for the Africans, after Japan’s star player Keisuke Honda had put them ahead with an impressive strike in the 16th minute.
“The players are very happy with the victory, but we are far from being qualified,” Lamouchi was quoted as saying at his post-match press conference. “We only won one match. We have another tough game ahead (on Thursday) against the leaders of the group (Colombia). We will have to prepare.”
The Elephants left captain Didier Drogba out of the starting line-up but it was his arrival off the bench after an hour which coincided with the African nation finally converting their chances, although the former Chelsea striker was not involved in either goal.
Swansea frontman Bony equalised in 65th minute with a glancing header, before former Arsenal forward Gervinho beat Eiji Kawashima all too easily at his near post to stun the Japanese.
“We did not start very well in the game, conceding the first goal from a careless mistake,” Lamouchi said. “Then we created many good chances. Having a player like Didier Drogba in the team, or among the substitutes, changes a game.”
Japan boss Alberto Zaccheroni remained confident his team could progress from the pool despite Saturday’s setback. “We have to give credit to the Ivory Coast – they had a great game,” said the Italian, whose side continue their campaign against Greece on Thursday. “We started well but could not hold onto the lead. The Ivory Coast players are very talented.
“We did not put them under enough pressure. We were not aggressive enough. We could not play as we normally do, especially in the second half after conceding the two goals. We have to do better in order to reach the knockout round, because today we did not do enough.”