Kalou blames pressure for Africa's poor show

JOHANNESBURG - The strain of living up to the raised expectations of playing on home soil is the reason most African countries have underperformed at the World Cup, Ivory Coast striker Salomon Kalou said on Thursday.

Kalou said most African players had put a lot of pressure on themselves because the World Cup was being hosted on the continent for the first time.

"Expectations were huge and we owed it to ourselves to perform well, but the pressure has caused us more stress than anything else and even inhibited our talents," Kalou told FIFA website.

"There have been a few players who haven't been up to the standard required. Their abilities have been crushed by the pressure they put on their own shoulders," a candid Kalou said.

Of the six African countries participating in the World Cup, four including host nation South Africa, Cameroon, Nigeria and Algeria have been knocked out in the first phase.

Ghana just managed to get through to the last 16, while Ivory Coast, who play their final group match against North Korea on Thursday, need a miracle to qualify from a group that includes Brazil and Portugal.

After holding Portugal to a 0-0 draw in their first game, Ivory Coast lost 3-1 to Brazil.

They now need to thrash North Korea and hope Brazil beat Portugal to stand any chance of qualifying after the Asians were walloped 7-0 by the Portuguese.

"When we played Brazil, we defended too deeply and let them have too much of the ball. You can't get away with that against a team like Brazil as it's difficult to regain possession," he said.

"You run after the ball, you start to tire and they automatically take advantage. Those are the regrets, but that's also how you learn," Kalou said.

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