Eriksson: Drogba likely to start against Brazil

JOHANNESBURG - Didier Drogba was likely to start against Brazil on Sunday, his broken forearm now sufficiently healed to be risked for the Group G match in Johannesburg, said coach Sven-Goran Eriksson.

But Eriksson added that the striker's inclusion in the starting lineup would not be confirmed until final consultations with doctors and Drogba overnight.

"We will decide tomorrow but I think he will be ready to play 90 minutes," he told a news conference at Soccer City on Saturday.

"He has been practising well in the last days and I think he can play. I will speak to him and the doctors and then take a decision."

Drogba broke his forearm in a pre-World Cup friendly and had surgery in Geneva just two weeks ago.

His participation in South Africa was in doubt for several days but he came on during the goalless draw with Portugal as a second half substitute, wearing a protective plastic cast, in the opening group game in Port Elizabeth on Tuesday.

"We know Drogba is a world class player. Everyone has a lot of respect for him. However, we did play well against Portugal without Drogba for more than an hour," Eriksson said, seeking at that point to turn the attention away from his captain.

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He also declined to be drawn into an analysis of his former team England, whose performance in a goalless draw against Algeria in Cape Town on Friday resulted in widespread derision.

"I was expecting this question earlier in the press conference," he joked, before batting away the issue.

"I don't have any comment on England, my head is full of Ivory Coast. I would not want other managers to talk about the Ivory Coast either."

He described his new African charges, with whom he worked for just three weeks before the World Cup, as a joy to coach.

"I have never had such a smiling, happy football team in my career," he said.

Eriksson, whose previous World Cup outing against Brazil with England at the quarter-final stage in 2002 ended in defeat after a goalkeeping calamity, said the prospect of playing the top-ranked side again was an exciting prospect for the Ivorians.

"A draw with Brazil is always a good result but a fantastic result would be to beat them. But we are not going to think about a draw, we will try to win," the Swede said.

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