Ivory Coast seeks minor miracle at WCup | sports | Hindustan Times
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Ivory Coast seeks minor miracle at WCup

sports Updated: Jun 24, 2010 12:25 IST

Ivory Coast needs one of the unlikeliest results in World Cup history if it is to prolong its stay at the 2010 tournament.

The Ivorians retain just the slimmest of mathematical chances of qualifying for the last 16 stage. Sven-Goran Eriksson's team has to beat already-eliminated North Korea in Nelspruit in the final round of Group G matches on Friday -- but that's the easy part.

At the same time, Portugal has to lose to Brazil in Durban -- not impossible. And there also has to be a nine-goal swing in Ivory Coast's favour -- almost inconceivable.

"There's one match to go and we owe it to ourselves to win it and hope events go in our favour," said defender Guy Demel, insisting The Elephants still retained hope of an incredible outcome.

"Nothing's over yet." World Cup history is not in Ivory Coast's favour. A one-goal loss by Portugal to five-time champion Brazil would require the Ivorians to win by at least eight and in the 80-year history of the World Cup there have been just six matches with an 8-0 scoreline or greater.

North Korea has been stung by its 7-0 defeat by Portugal, and is eager to make up for that poor display against Ivory Coast. "Tactically speaking we fell apart," said North Korea coach Kim Jung Hun, who took responsibility for the change in his team's formation at halftime that led to six second-half goals from the Portuguese.

"Back home I believe that they will look at the next game," Kim said. "We have one left. We will reinforce our mental abilities and really work well." Midfielder An Yong Hak said the mood in the locker room "wasn't good" following the Portugal match, which was the first North Korea game abroad to be aired live prime-time on state TV in the isolated country.