Ivory Coast star Drogba out of World Cup

Ivory Coast star Drogba out of World Cup

Published Jun. 4, 2010 4:32 p.m. ET

Didier Drogba told teammate Kolo Toure that he will miss the World Cup after breaking his right arm Friday in a warmup match.

"For him, he said, the World Cup is finished," Toure said.

The 32-year-old Drogba was taken off 15 minutes into Ivory Coast's 2-0 win over Japan after a high challenge by Japan defender Marcus Tulio Tanaka. He was then rushed to a hospital.

"We can just see on his face that he was sad and when he is like that you can't ask more," Toure said. "It is difficult for us because he is such a really important player."


Team spokesman Eric Kacou told The Associated Press that "it is a fracture in his right arm," but coach Sven-Goran Eriksson said the team hadn't officially ruled its captain out.

"We are not sure yet," Eriksson said, saying Drogba's participation was "still a possibility."

Toure said Ivory Coast's players were hoping for a surprising recovery, and said the team would know more later Friday.

Drogba scored 29 goals in 32 Premier League matches this season, helping Chelsea win the title. He also has 45 goals in 70 appearances for his country.

Friday's friendly was the final warmup for Ivory Coast and Japan before they travel to South Africa. The Ivorians open the World Cup on June 15 against Portugal in Port Elizabeth, while Japan begins a day earlier against Cameroon in Bloemfontein.

Drogba appeared to be holding his right side after Tulio's challenge. After returning from the hospital, the striker entered the team bus without speaking to reporters.

Eriksson said the injury was unlucky, and didn't blame Tulio.

"It wasn't bad or stupid. He didn't want to hurt anyone," the Swedish coach said. "Football is a game of contact."

Tulio said he had no intention to hurt Drogba.

"God and everybody in the stadium saw it was a normal challenge," said the Brazil-born defender, who was shown a yellow card. "I do hope he gets better in time to play in the World Cup."

Two minutes before the challenge, Drogba's 22-meter (yard) free kick was deflected by Tulio into his own net.

Toure scored from close range in the 81st minute, meeting a free kick with a crisp shot.

FIFA rules stipulate that a player can be replaced because of injury up to 24 hours before a team's first match.

That gives Ivory Coast 10 days to see if Drogba's condition improves. The Ivoarians also play Brazil and North Korea in Group G.

The injury has "traumatized Ivory Coast," said Emilienne Aka, an Ivorian who gathered with others at the team's fan club headquarters in Abidjan.

"Was it really a fracture, or just a smaller injury?" fan club president Emile Gnahoulou asked team officials by telephone.

Drogba's setback follows the injuries sustained by Chelsea teammates Michael Ballack and Michael Essien. Ballack, Germany's captain, and Essien, Ghana's star midfielder, were both ruled out of the World Cup last month.