Colombia have last-16 on mind

South Americans take on Ivory Coast in key clash of Group C
Last Updated : 18 June 2014, 17:50 IST
Last Updated : 18 June 2014, 17:50 IST

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Few teams have flattered to deceive over the years as much as Colombia and Ivory Coast who meet for the first time on Thursday in a battle of perennial World Cup underachievers.

Colombia have been exasperating their followers ever since 1993 when a stunning 5-0 World Cup qualifying win away to Argentina was announced as heralding a golden era which never materialised.

Ivory Coast have been blessed with a golden generation which, for all its undoubted talent, has repeatedly failed to deliver the expected riches and has become a regular visitor to the last chance saloon in the last three years.

Both teams, however, have started the tournament with impressive wins, finally giving supporters hope that this time they can deliver on their exciting potential. Colombia, taking part for the fifth time, kicked off with a 3-0 win over Greece, their biggest-ever win at a World Cup and one of their most convincing performances.

For more than 20 years since their historic win at the River Plate stadium, Colombia, now led by former Argentina coach Jose Pekerman, have been falling short of expectations.They arrived at the 1994 World Cup among the favourites and were expected to expect the tournament alight with their slick, passing football.

But their campaign ended in failure and tragedy, with first round elimination followed by the shocking murder of defender Andres Escobar in Medellin shortly after they returned home. Colombia were again eliminated in the first round in 1998 and failed to qualify at all for the following three tournaments when they replaced their open attacking style with an excessively defensively one. They did, however, win the Copa America which they hosted in 2001.

Ivory Coast's 2-1 win over Japan has given hope that they can finally get to the last sixteen for the first time.
Probable teams:

 Colombia: 1-David Ospina: 18-Camilo Zuniga, 2-Cristian Zapata, 3-Mario Yepes, 7-Pablo Armero; 8-Abel Aguilar, 6-Carlos Sanchez; 11-Juan Cuadrado, 10-James Rodriguez, 14-Victor Ibarbo; 9-Teofilo Gutierrez.
Ivory Coast: 1-Boubacar Barry; 17-Serge Aurier, 5-Didier Zokora, 22-Souleymane Bamba, 3-Artur Boka; 9-Ismael Tiote, 20-Geoffroy Serey Die; 8-Salomon Kalou, 19-Yaya Toure, 10-Gervinho; 12-Wilfried Bony.

Published 18 June 2014, 17:50 IST

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