Italy Held Back by New Zealand and Ivory Coast's Avid Samba Game Against Brazil

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We must begin with the highly anticipated game between Brazil and Ivory Coast. Brazil, with the World Cup's oldest squad (average 29 years), looked several time better than in their last game against North Korea. It was a different team our Les Elephants were facing and it was a game full of energy and passion.

Just as the commentator let us know that Fabiano hadn’t scored in the national team since September, we realized he was going to be trouble. He then ended that goal-drought with his 26th national career goal in the 25th minute. We felt Ivory Coast came back in the second half destined to do what no other team has done in World Cup history: trail to Brazil in halftime and come out as winners.

But trouble arrived quickly for Les Elephants as Brazil played like the old samba-Brazil with quick passes, utilizing the entire pitch for their play. With another goal by Fabiano (a little help from the hand, eh?) and Elano the situation went from bad to worse for Ivory Coast who was down 3-0. But the Ivoirians showed fervor and fought back into the game and it paid off. Boom. A counterattack directed by Gervinho resulted in a perfect header from Didier Drogba that kept Julio Cesar in Brazil’s goal frozen to the ground and Ivory Coast became the first African team to score on Brazil.

This goal could be worth everything when points and goal differential are being counted after the final game in the group stages. With only one win in twelve matches, it’s not the start that Africa hoped for. But where there are games left – there is hope. Ivory Coast can still advance. Allez Les Elephants!

And back to the early game - Italy encountered unexpected trouble as New Zealand continues to surprise the world. The team that remarkably got away with a draw with a last-grasp goal in the dying seconds against Slovakia now even more miraculously managed to finish equal against the world champions. Gil Azzurri are still short of a win in the tournament but these two points can be vital and their fate is certainly in their own hands during their final game against Slovakia (who fell to Paraguay earlier today). Forza Gil Azzurri!

Football