Five Japan-Ivory Coast facts before their World Cup clash
Five facts about Japan and Ivory Coast before their World Cup Group C match in Recife on Saturday:
Five World Cups for Japan, three for Ivory Coast
Japan, current Asian Champions, have been to every World Cup since 1998 and got to the round of 16 when they co-hosted the event in 2002 and again in 2010. This will be the third World Cup finals for Ivory Coast, Africa's top ranked nation in the FIFA's standings, but they did not get past the group stage at the tournaments in 2006 and 2010.
Tough campaigns for Ivory Coast
Ivory Coast have had a rough ride at previous World Cups. At their first appearance in 2006 they were put in a group with Argentina, Netherlands and Serbia and never stood a chance after losing their first two games. In 2010, they lost to Brazil, drew with Portugal and got their first finals win against North Korea.
Japan's fans the most polite
Japan's footballers may not have sparkled when they made their first World Cup appearance in France in 1998 -- going out in the group stage having scored just one goal. But their fans would have won a politeness world championship. More then 12,000 Japanese were victims of a fake ticket scam but the Blue Samurai's supporters still packed stadiums. In the game in Toulouse against Argentina they outnumbered their opponents' fans and still had another 10,000 outside the stadium watching on giant screens. Those inside astonished French cleaners by taking all their rubbish away with them.
Japan river celebration
The 2002 World Cup co-hosted by Japan and South Korea was the first to be hosted in Asia. Japan reached the last 16 and South Korea the semi-finals, a success that came as a relief to both countries. Japan's victory over Tunisia in the group stage to ensure they reached the second round came as such a relief to fans that many jumped into the river in host city Osaka. Even normally restrained police lost the run of themselves and threw fans into the air, catching them on their way down. Japan eventually went out 1-0 to Turkey.
Drogba's third campaign
Ivory Coast captain Didier Drogba will be at his third World Cup in Brazil. He has reasons to remember each one so far. In 2006 in Germany, he scored Ivory Coast's first goal in a World Cup final in a match against Argentina, but his team lost and went out in the group stage. In 2010, Drogba broke his arm just before the finals but was allowed to play wearing a protective cast. In the second group game, Drogba became the first player from an African country to score against Brazil in a World Cup finals.