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Page last updated at 16:56 GMT, Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Ivory Coast suffer South Korea defeat in friendly

Ivory Coast's Didier Drogba (right) and South Korean Lee Young-Pyo
Ivory Coast's Drogba (right) contests with South Korean Lee Young-Pyo

Ivory Coast's preparation towards the World Cup suffered a jolt after a 2-0 defeat at the hands of South Korea on Wednesday.

Lee Dong-gook's fine volley set the Asians on their way to victory over the Elephants in the friendly in London.

South Korea were lively throughout and deserved the win which was sealed by Kwak Tae-hwi's late header.

Captain Didier Drogba came close on several occasions for Ivory Coast but he fluffed the chances.

The managerless West Africans will now turn to securing the temporary services of Guus Hiddink to lead the side to the World Cup in June.

The Elephants were being coached by Kouadio Georges after the sacking of Vahid Halihodzic last month and he handed starts to Chelsea striker Drogba, Arsenal defender Emmanuel Eboue and Portsmouth forward Aruna Dindane.

South Korea, who are ranked 31 places below the Africans in the latest Fifa rankings, were captained by Manchester United winger Park Ji-sung and he was joined in the starting line-up by Bolton forward Lee Chung-yong and Celtic midfielder Ki Sung-yong.

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Both sides were hoping to learn something ahead of June's World Cup finals, with South Korea due to come up against fellow Africans Nigeria and Ivory Coast drawn in the same group as North Korea.

The Ivorians are also due to play Brazil and Portugal and could be managed by former Chelsea and South Korea boss Hiddink who has been linked with the vacancy.

If Hiddink does make Ivory Coast his fourth different charges in the last four World Cups he will have to insert a clinical streak into their play as despite dominating possession throughout they rarely threatened the Korean goal.

Hiddink took Korea to the last four in 2002 and the present side showed enough to suggest they could cause an upset or two themselves this summer.

Korea were backed by some fanatical support who made a racket throughout and they went ahead in the fourth minute.

A free-kick from Cha Du-ri on the right wing was not headed clear by Cheik Tiote and the ball dropped invitingly for Lee Dong-gook at the far post.

The Joenbuk Hyundai forward still had work to do but demonstrated fabulous technique as he allowed the ball to drop before volleying it powerfully into the top corner past a helpless Boubacar Barry.

The Elephants were quick to respond however and bossed the next 20 minutes.

Drogba hit a free-kick tamely into the wall before Dindane nearly wriggled free inside the area only to be denied by a fine covering tackle.

Bakari Kone was showing nice touches in the middle and a goal looked certain to come for the Africans but it was Korea who came close to a second in the 26th minute.

Park burst clear down the left of the area and picked out Lee Dong-gook in the middle but his shot was smothered by an excellent block from Souleman Bamba.

Barry had to be at full stretch to claw out a cross as the Koreans counter-attacked well at the start of the second half before Park came within inches of a second on the hour mark.

Substitute Ahn Jung Hwan and Ki Sung-yong combined well as they stretched the Ivorian defence to play in Park on the left and the United man saw his curler drift a yard wide of the far post with Barry beaten.

Both sides made changes as the friendly petered out before Kwak headed in Kim Jae-sung's free-kick in stoppage time.

Meanwhile, Katlego Mphela grabbed a 70th minute equalizer to save South Africa's blushes and salvage a 1-1 draw for the World Cup host against neighbour Namibia in a friendly in Durban.

Rudolf Bester scored just before halftime to give the visitors a surprise lead at the Moses Mabhida Stadium and spoil the final part of the 100-day countdown celebrations.

Razundara Tjikuzu crossed for Bester to send his shot into the corner of the net and stun the 70,000 sell-out crowd.

South Africa coach Carlos Alberto Parreira responded with five substitutions in a bid to inspire his team.

Mamelodi Sundowns striker Mphela then came to the host's rescue with 20 minutes to go as he fired in the equalizer.

Cameroon and Italy, both sides playing experimental teams ahead of the World Cup, played out a lacklustre goalless draw in Monaco.

Neither side appeared willing to take the initiative in a match that drifted to an anticlimactic finish on Wednesday.

Italy coach Marcello Lippi gave debuts to defender Leonardo Bucci and Andrea Cossu, but neither took the opportunity to push their case for inclusion in the defending champion's squad for South Africa.

Cameroon will now meet Slovakia and Portugal in friendlies before flying to South Africa, while Italy meets Mexico and Switzerland before it begins its World Cup defence.



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see also
Hiddink ideal for Ivory Coast
04 Mar 10 |  African
Ivory Coast close on Hiddink deal
03 Mar 10 |  African
Halilhodzic sacked by Ivory Coast
28 Feb 10 |  African
Pressure mounts on Halilhodzic
23 Feb 10 |  African
Ivory Coast out of the Africa Cup
25 Jan 10 |  Sport
Elephants coach fears for Drogba
01 Jan 10 |  African
Romaric dropped by Ivory Coast
23 Dec 09 |  African
Brazil face tough World Cup group
04 Dec 09 |  World Cup 2010
Ivorians deny Halilhodzic rumours
25 Jun 09 |  African


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