RECIFE, Brazil (AP) — Ivory Coast’s all-time top scorer Didier Drogba was left out of the starting lineup for the World Cup Group C opener against Japan on Saturday night and replaced by Wilfried Bony.
However, a lingering hamstring injury was not enough to sideline Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure.
Drogba has scored 64 international goals, but was seen limping off the practice field last Wednesday with a thigh injury after a collision with Didier Zokora. Even before that, coach Sabri Lamouchi had indicated that the 36-year-old former Chelsea striker had competition for the starting striker’s spot.
Toure is coming off a 20-goal campaign that helped Manchester City to its second Premier League title in three seasons. However, his brother, Kolo, a Liverpool defender, was not in the starting lineup. He was in the squad despite being diagnosed with Malaria.
Japan’s captain, midfielder Makoto Hasebe, who had been recovering from a knee injury, was included in the starting 11. Japan’s top stars Keisuke Honda of AC Milan and Shinji Kagawa of Manchester United were chosen to spearhead Japan’s attack, as expected.
The 25-year-old Bony scored 17 goals for Swansea City last season. He has 24 appearances for Ivory Coast.
Ivory Coast: Boubacar Barry, Serge Aurier, Souleymane Bamba, Arthur Boka, Didier Zokora, Cheikh Tiote, Serey Die, Yaya Toure, Salomon Kalou, Gervinho, Wilfried Bony
Japan: Eiji Kawashima, Yuto Nagatomo, Atsuto Uchida, Maya Yoshida, Makoto Hasebe, Hotaru Yamaguchi, Masato Morishige, Keisuke Honda, Shinji Kagawa, Shinji Okazaki, Yuya Osako.