FORTALEZA, June 24: Yaya and Kolo Toure will have to shake off their grief over the death of their brother against Greece on Tuesday as they try to take Ivory Coast into the World Cup knock-out stages.
The Premier League pair were dealt a terrible blow with the news that their 28-year-old brother Ibrahim died of cancer in Manchester last week.
Just days later, Ivory Coast will take to the field with their World Cup hopes on the line in their final Group C game against former European champions Greece.
In what will be one of Yaya Toure’s final memories of his brother, Ibrahim was at Manchester City’s stadium last month when he collected the Premier League trophy.
Now the captain will have to contend with his emotions as well as the magnitude of the occasion as Ivory Coast seek to progress from Group C in Fortaleza.
Last week’s 2-1 loss to Colombia means Ivory Coast’s progress is far from assured and they will need a win to make sure of reaching the knock-out stages for the first time.
The Elephants trailed Japan in their opening game before the introduction of benched ex-Chelsea star Didier Drogba was credited with inspiring their 2-1 comeback win.
Former France midfielder Sabri Lamouchi, who took charge two years ago in what is his first role as coach, has showed signs of impatience with the constant debate over Drogba, 36.
“It is important not to get fixated over Didier Drogba, it is only the second match he is on the bench,” said Lamouchi following the defeat to Colombia.
But Ivory Coast will take heart from Greece’s goalless record so far which has left them bottom of the group and needing nothing less than a win.
The 2004 European champions, despite going a man down, fought off Asian title-holders Japan to rescue a 0-0 draw last week and keep their hopes alive.
And after resolving a training ground bust-up between Giorgos Tzavellas and Giannis Maniatis, they will hope to finally find the net and reach the eliminators for the first time.
A win would take Greece through, provided already qualified Colombia do not lose to third-placed Japan in Cuiaba.