Sven-Goran Eriksson has cautioned his Côte d'Ivoire team against all-out attack in the pursuit of the avalanche of goals they need against Korea DPR in their bid to reach the last 16 at the FIFA World Cup™.
Eriksson confronts the near-impossible task of needing to make up nine goals on Portugal at the North Korens expense at the Mbombela Stadium on Friday if they are to join fellow Africans Ghana in the last 16. The former England manager, who only took charge a couple of months before the FIFA World Cup, said he will make a couple of changes to his starting line-up but rates pulling off qualification from Group G as highly unlikely.
"We are going to make some changes in the team, but not a revolution, no need to do that. We have been doing okay in these last two games," the Swede told his eve-of-match press conference late Thursday. "I want to give a chance to a couple of others in the beginning. You can't just attack with everything you have. North Korea will punish you if you do. We have to be disciplined and defend well. We are going to try to play and, of course, we are going to try to attack, absolutely."
Eriksson said that team captain and spearhead Didier Drogba was improving daily in his recovery from breaking his right arm in a warm-up matc. "Didier will start tomorrow, absolutely. He's looking better and better," Eriksson said. "He scored one goal for us against Brazil and he almost scored another one. He had a very good training session today. He is extremely important for us tomorrow."
We have to be disciplined and defend well. We are going to try to play and, of course, we are going to try to attack, absolutely.
Eriksson admitted he was perplexed with which Korea DPR team his players will confront on Friday. In their first appearance at the finals for 44 years, they only went down 2-1 to Brazil but then crumbled to a 7-0 thrashing by Portugal.
"I think they were extremely well-organised against Brazil and for the first 45 minutes against Portugal, then I don't know what happened to them in the second half," he said. "They have good players, numbers nine [Jong Tae-Se] and 10 [Hong Yong-Jo], extremely good players, very aggressive and run a lot. But I don't know how they will be after losing 7-0 to Portugal."
Eriksson, who said he has not thought about his managerial future beyond the FIFA World Cup, said whatever the outcome of Friday's match, it was important for Les Eléphants to leave with pride.
"It's a strange situation in the group. I think we have played great football, but it's extremely difficult, you can't tell your players to go out and score eight or nine goals," he said. "We are going to try our best, it's very unlikely but we are going to try. We want to leave this World Cup with our heads held high. We just want to give it a go."