Yoshida ready to renew rivalry with Toure
Japan defender Maya Yoshida is ready to renew his rivalry with some familiar faces in Saturday’s World Cup clash against Ivory Coast in Recife, aware that he needs to be on top of his game to thwart players such as Yaya Toure and Gervinho.
Gervinho, then with Arsenal, soured Yoshida’s 2012 Southampton debut with a brace in a 6-1 Premier League romp and the Japanese centre-back considers himself responsible for one of the two goals scored by the striker, who now plays for Roma.
Yoshida, however, is determined not to let history repeat itself in his team’s Group C opener at the Arena Pernambuco.
“I played against Gervinho on my debut at Emirates Stadium and one of his goals was from my mistake,” Yoshida told Kyodo news agency.
“I’ve played against Toure as well but we won that time and know (Wilfried) Bony from Vitesse Arnhem and Swansea City.
“I have watched a couple of (Ivory Coast) games and I think Toure will play, so for 90 minutes we have to concentrate,” the 25-year-old added.
“Toure told me he thought it would be a difficult game against Japan, but I said to him ‘I don’t think you really think that.’”
Ivory Coast’s attacking riches means former Chelsea striker Didier Drogba is not guaranteed a place in the starting XI while they also have an additional luxury in the form of targetman Bony, who enjoyed a stellar debut season in South Wales.
“If Drogba plays, I think it will be more direct football and they will play a lot of long balls, but on the other hand, Bony plays the same way and is physically strong, so we have to think about picking up the second balls,” said Yoshida, whose Premier League season was cut short by a knee injury in March.
Following the Ivory Coast clash, Japan faces Greece in Natal on June 19 and concludes their group matches against Colombia in Cuiaba on June 24.