By Iain Rogers
BRASILIA, June 18 (Reuters) - Ivory Coast will be without forward Didier Ya Konan for Thursday's World Cup Group C clash against Colombia because of a knee injury, coach Sabri Lamouchi said on Wednesday.
Ya Konan came on as a substitute for the final 12 minutes of Saturday's 2-1 comeback win against Japan in Recife and Lamouchi said he was hopeful the 30-year-old would be fit for Ivory Coast's final group game against Greece on Tuesday.
"We do not want to take any risks with him," Lamouchi told a news conference at the national stadium.
"We hope he will recover as early as the match against Greece but if that doesn't happen then maybe for the second round," added the Frenchman.
Lamouchi was predictably bombarded with questions about whether the African side's talisman, Didier Drogba, would make a return to the starting lineup after he was left on the bench until the 62nd minute against Japan.
Two minutes after the 36-year-old entered the fray Ivory Coast levelled through Wilfried Bony and Gervinho struck the winner a further two minutes later.
"I am in charge of the group not one player," Lamouchi said.
"Didier knows how important he is to the team and he knows what his role is when he plays for Ivory Coast," he added.
"Obviously he might be disappointed not to be starting but he is showing in training that he is very dedicated.
"Every member of the Ivory Coast delegation wants to make it to the next round of the World Cup."
Colombia also won their opening game, a 3-0 success against Greece in Belo Horizonte, and Lamouchi said he expected a tougher test and a different challenge against the South Americans than the Japan game.
"I want to highlight the fact that we are going to play only the eighth World Cup finals match in our history," he told reporters.
"We know that we will not have a lot of space and we will definitely have to win the battle in the midfield to impose our game," he added.
"We will have to fight a bit more and be technically stronger. We need to make less mistakes and be more focused that we were against Japan.
"Colombia are a team that is known for being very strong in attack. When you look at some of the players on the bench you know that their potential is amazing.
"I don't know what the coach (Jose Pekerman) will decide but I can tell you it will be a completely different style of play to Japan and we have to be ready for that." (Editing by Patrick Johnston)
- Sports & Recreation
- Ivory Coast
- Sabri Lamouchi
- Didier Ya Konan
- Didier Drogba