Awful news for Ivory Coast this afternoon. 15 minutes into their final warmup game against Japan, Drogba suffered a suspected fractured elbow under a challenge from Japanese centre-back Tulio. This is the same Tulio who scored the opener against England on Sunday and went on to concede the second own goal. His too was the deflection that gave Ivory Coast the lead here.
Ivory Coast head coach Sven Goran Eriksson took a break from his daily ritual of getting a blowie off an FA secretary on a bed of fifties to accentuate the positive, his meek offer of “we think it’s still a possibility” convincing precisely no-one.
If true, this is a big blow for Ivory Coast – after a poor Cup of Nations last January, and a spot in the group of death containing Brazil, Portugal and North Korea, they needed a fit Drogba if they were to stand much of a chance of getting to the knockout stage. It’s also a tremendous shame that when Africa finally gets to host a World Cup, it has to do so without two of the continent’s most recognisable players in Drogba and Michael Essien. Someone had better be wrapping Samuel Eto’o in cotton wool for the next week or so.
Given his ability to get over seemingly life-threatening injuries by having a nice lie down and a subsequent bit of wincing, maybe Drogba will wake up tomorrow morning to find himself fully healed; personally I hope he does. I know the guy’s not to everyone’s taste but few would question that he’s one of the most complete, brutally effective strikers in world football and that his national side, and the tournament as a whole, would be a whole lot weaker for his absence.