The Côte d'Ivoire should take a leaf out of Korea DPR's dogged defensive display against five-time champions Brazil when they play them in their FIFA World Cup™ Group G clash on Sunday, said striker Salomon Kalou.
The Koreans kept the Brazilians at bay for just over an hour in their opening match on Tuesday before losing 2-1 and Chelsea star Kalou said that was a good example for him and his team-mates, who opened with a 0-0 draw against 2006 semi-finalists Portugal.
"I saw the first-half of their match, and North Korea defended really well and annoyed Brazil, they serve as a good example," said 24-year-old Kalou. "We have the players who can make a difference, our strength will always be in attack, but we must focus on defence. When you play against a team that is stronger than you, one has to stop them from playing, and afterwards to play on ones strengths: for us it is technique and catching them on the counter-attack."
Kalou, who has not scored as much as he would have liked for Chelsea, though he grabbed a hat-trick in their 7-0 demolition of Stoke towards the end of last season's title-winning campaign, said that he expected little difference in Brazil from the Portuguese.
"Brazil is a team of the same level as Portugal, with a lot of players capable of an individual moment that makes the difference," said Kalou. "We have to play the same as we did against Portugal: compact, as a unit, and to battle for every ball. We must on no account allow Brazil to play their natural game.
"We must continue to defend as we did against Portugal but try and be more attack-minded and realistic when we do go forward. But the bases are good, and we must retain this positive attitude."
Kalou said that Côte d'Ivoire had learned from their 2006 experience in Germany, where they went out in the first round after narrow defeats to both The Netherlands and Argentina -- bowing out with an impressive victory over Serbia and Montenegro. "We have absorbed what took place in 2006 and we have made progress since then," said Kalou, who opted not to be selected for those finals as he was still hoping to get Dutch citizenship.
"The squad has matured, we didn't come here to play our natural game but to stop Portugal from playing. It is different to 2006 where we wanted to play our natural game without taking into consideration our opponents, and where we lost 2-1 to both the Dutch and Argentina. We have to have a roadmap for each match worked out. But we are conscious that there is work still to do.
"The hardest bit is still to come: to try and take three points off Brazil."